Over the Christmas holiday, using #BlackLivesMatter, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei tweeted an incendiary critique of American race relations. Pointing to recent protest over police treatment of Americans of color, Khamenei compared the unrest in New York and Missouri to conflicts in the Middle East, and called on “Jesus followers” to defend the oppressed. It is doubtful that the impetus behind the Ayatollah’s tweet is a genuine concern for the lives of black Americans. His sanctimonious taunting, however, is illustrative of the powerful opening that recent events offer to America’s adversaries and detractors.
Racial discord in the United States, which most Americans view as a domestic quarrel, has been thrust into the international spotlight as a human rights crisis by America’s friends and enemies alike. Amnesty International, the global human rights organization, has weighed in with criticism of the United States’ handling of the situation in Ferguson by tweeting in August, “US can’t tell other countries to improve their records on policing and peaceful assembly if it won’t clean up its own human rights record.” China, Russia, North Korea and Egypt have covered these recent events extensively, declaring them as evidence of America’s hypocrisy.