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.
While the unrest has also shocked American observers and foreign correspondents from other Western democracies — including British and German reporters who have been struck by the “sounds of battle” andendured arrest — some of the most strident criticism of the police violence in Ferguson has come from authoritarian nations where the police are often venerated and dissent is scarcely tolerated.Coverage that echoes the broadcasts from Moscow has also appeared on Iran’s state-run Press TV, in reports about the use of force “to suppress protests in Ferguson,” that also make no mention of how demonstrations are dispersed in Iran….Not to be outdone, a spokesman for Egypt’s foreign ministry, Badr Abdel-Atti, told the official news agency MENA on Tuesday that his country was “closely following” the protests in Ferguson. According to the state-owned Ahram Online, Egypt “called on U.S. authorities to exercise restraint and deal with the protests in accordance with U.S. and international standards.” The statement came just days after the first anniversary of the massacre of hundreds of peaceful protesters by the same military-backed government.
Watching the riots in Ferguson, Missouri, it’s hard not to wince… at our foolish idea of our country. Russian police arrested journalists at protests, not American cops. And, even if the chances are higher that heads will roll here for something like this than in Russia, it’s hard not to notice one thing: Even at the height of the race riots in Moscow, at the height of the crackdown on the opposition, even the Russian police did not use rubber bullets.And, like it or not, this is what the world is seeing, the world to which we strive to be an example.