Last week, President Barack Obama complained to the United Nations General Assembly about violence in Ferguson, Missouri, implicitly equating the protests to the genocidal violence of ISIS, his primary focus in the address. On Sunday, Iranian leader Ali Khamenei picked up Obama’s criticism of America, unleashing a stream of abuse on Twitter based on criticism of events in Ferguson, accusing the U.S. of hypocrisy on human rights.
“How can US claim to be the leader in #WarOnTerror while it has got its hands dirty with the blood of humans? #Ferguson #Syria #Iraq,” Khamenei, who exercises supreme religious and political authority, tweeted.
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) September 28, 2014
Obama had referenced Ferguson in anticipation of criticism that the U.S.-led campaign against ISIS (or ISIL) was hypocritical because of America’s human rights record–a frequent refrain among the UN’s dictators:
I realize that America’s critics will be quick to point out that at times we too have failed to live up to our ideals; that America has plenty of problems within our own borders. This is true. In a summer marked by instability in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, I know the world also took notice of the small American city of Ferguson, Missouri – where a young man was killed, and a community was divided. So yes, we have our own racial and ethnic tensions. And like every country, we continually wrestle with how to reconcile the vast changes wrought by globalization and greater diversity with the traditions that we hold dear.
Khamenei, one of the world’s worst human rights abusers, then walked through the door Obama had opened.
A nation’s critics should not be silent for fear that enemies abroad will abuse their words. The quality of debate in a free society is something to be valued in and of itself, and tyrants and terrorists should not have a veto.
Yet when the critic in question is the Commander-in-Chief on the global stage, discretion is advised, lest well-intentioned criticism (assuming that is the case) be twisted into virulent anti-American propaganda.
Senior Editor-at-Large Joel B. Pollak edits Breitbart California and is the author of the forthcoming ebook, Wacko Birds: The Fall (and Rise) of the Tea Party, available for Amazon Kindle.
Follow Joel on Twitter: @joelpollak