Dictators Diss US for Racial Unrest
By Robin Wright
How embarrassing is this? Dictators, autocrats and theocrats around the world are lambasting the U.S. for its handling of racial unrest in Missouri. Palestinians have taken to Twitter to advise protesters in Ferguson on how to handle tear gas. And Amnesty International has sent its people to check on the protests.
The U.S. investment of billions of American dollars to promote democratic values around the world has been undermined by the racial unrest in Ferguson. “US can’t tell other countries to improve their records on policing and peaceful assembly if it won’t clear up its own human rights record,” Amnesty International tweeted this week.
Several countries that have faced severe criticism in the State Department’s annual Human Rights Report are now boldly engaging in a kind of diplomatic touché-to-you in their condemnation of the U.S. Some may be expected from autocratic regimes. But the crisis in Ferguson undermines the moral high-ground that the U.S. has long claimed.
In Russia, which Washington blasted this year for violating the rights of racial, ethnic, religious and sexual minorities, the foreign ministry called on “our American partners to pay more attention to restoring order in their own country before imposing their dubious experience on other nations.”
In China, which Washington has criticized for widespread “repression and coercion” of ethnic minorities and dissidents, a commentary from the state-run news agency Xinhua reprimanded Washington for its repression. “Obviously, what the United States needs to do is to concentrate on solving its own problems rather than always pointing fingers at others,” the agency wrote.
In Cuba, which Washington has condemned for limiting freedom of expression, a news website wrote, “Is the Ku Klux Klan coming back with force” in America?
In Iran, which Washington says has engaged in “arbitrary and unlawful killings,” the deputy foreign minister for American Affairs, Majid Takht Ravanchi criticized the U.S. for “racist behavior and oppression.” Mr. Ravanchi is also one of the top negotiators in the nuclear talks with the U.S. The official Islamic Republic News Agency charged that “violence has become institutionalized in the United States in recent years.”
One of the most embarrassing reprimands may be from Egypt, a country that has witnessed two military coups in the past three years and issued more than 1,200 death sentences to dissidents in just two months this spring. It is also a major recipient of American military and economic aid. In a statement, the Foreign Ministry called U.S. authorities to show more restraint and to deal with the protests according to international law—and said it will continue the monitor the situation, almost identical to the language Washington has used in describing Egypt’s unrest over the past three years.
The cost of the tragedy in Ferguson may not just be in America’s image of itself, but the world’s image of the U.S., too.