Usually on this blog we focus solely on International Law and how we as Americans perceive International crimes. Every once in awhile it’s important to take a step back and take a look at our own abuses. We all find it so easy to identify and criticize when we see human rights abuses in other countries but fail to see it in our own. So for this entry, I am going to flip the script and look at how the international community views the events in Ferguson and the recent failure to indict Officer Darren Wilson. I will attempt to keep my opinions about Ferguson out of this post but as a disclaimer the personal opinions that do creep out are mine and are not affiliated with Pace Law School.
Overwhelming, the main focus of most of the international media is the racial tension in the United States,the militarization of the United States’ police force, and how theses events would likely never happen in their country. In Russia, the riots in Ferguson have become a main news story. A Washington Post reporter based in Moscow writes that the news coverage on Ferguson serves to accuse America as being a giant hypocrite. Russian State television criticizes President Obama and warns that the problem may spread like a virus. Another popular Russian website claims that Ferguson is indicative of larger problem know as “AfroMaidan” a reference to Euromaidan protests in Kiev and Ukraine. They claim that the protests will lead to widespread chaos because white Americans have prejudice against African-Americans in their blood. In China, Xinhua, state-run news agency called America’s racial problems a “deeply-rooted chronic disease”. However, Josh Chin a Wall Street journal reporter stationed in China observed that most of the protest in Ferguson have gone unreported. He speculates the lack of coverage is due to their own fears of protests. That hasn’t stopped Xinhua from using Ferguson to show that the “United States needs to concentrate on solving its own problems rather than pointing fingers at others.’
Now, China and Russia aren’t exactly claiming best friends status with the United States these days. So its not surprising that their coverage of Ferguson points out the downfall and the hypocrisy. Although across the pond, the story isn’t much different. The Telegraph has treated the conflict much like a war zone. British media has particularly focused on the racial tensions behind the riots. Some papers have compared the Ferguson riots to the 2011 riots in London which also involved a police shooting and a young black man. Britain is no stranger to its own racial tensions but that has not stopped them from using the events in Ferguson as a lesson. A reporter from the Metro, Abigail Chandler, wrote ” Ferguson is a living example of why we should be immensely grateful that those tactics [rubber bullets, tear gas, water cannons] were never used during the U.K. riots. Arguably the riots in Ferguson have been much more dangerous; the burning of several buildings, burning of several cars, and the looting and destruction of businesses. The German news outlets have also commented on the events in Ferguson. Zeit online has much harsher commentary of Ferguson. They concluded that “the situation of African-Americans has barely improved since Martin Luther King” and that the “dream of a post-racist society, which flared up after the election of President Obama, seems further away than ever before.” oh, way harsh Tai. Even a more conservative newspaper, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, echoed similar sentiments of a more racial society after the election of President Obama.
Okay, so really what does this all mean. Every country has problems, every country needs to focus on itself once in a while. However, as a leader in the international community how do we respond to international criticisms? Do we as a nation recognize that Ferguson might just represent a larger problem? Do we listen to what the international community has to say?