Conflict & Justice

Everyone from Tibetan monks to Iran's Supreme Leader is watching Ferguson. Here's how they're reacting

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A girl holds a sign as she protests the shooting of Michael Brown on Aug. 21, 2014 in Ferguson, Mo.

Credit:

JOSHUA LOTT

We know recent events in Ferguson, Missouri resonate with the rest of the world.

We have proof. Check out this time-lapse map that shows how quickly tweets mentioning Ferguson spread around the globe. (Full map at the bottom.)

The question, then, isn't whether people outside America are paying attention to the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown and its aftermath. The question is, what do they think about it? What has the world learned about the United States from what's been happening in Ferguson?

That's a deeper query, and counting tweets won't answer it. So let's take a closer look at how people in other countries have reacted so far.
 

Hands across the internet

The tweets that spread like wildfire around the globe weren't just disseminating news. Some of those tweets consisted of folks in other crisis-ridden countries trying to help their counterparts in Ferguson cope.

Telegraph article, which Zach Goldhammer cited in the Atlantic, chronicled Palestinian tweets aimed at Ferguson, offering advice on how to handle tear gas.

Why would someone in Gaza care about protesters in Ferguson? One argument is that the resurgence of popular uprisings around the world — the Occupy movement and the Arab Spring, for example — has created a kind of global protest culture, one that unites people against oppression across nations. As Goldhammer puts it, there's now a "certain transnational homogeneity to scenes of riot police clashing with demonstrators."

Or, as you might say, "tear gas unites us all."
 

Around the world in Buddhist robes

The internet is great for connecting people in faraway places, but some people saw what was happening in Ferguson and decided to hop on an airplane.

Some, like the Tibetan monks who came all the way from India, traveled great distances to take part in the demonstrations in a St. Louis suburb. 

The Huffington Post collated some great pictures of the monks interacting with folks in Missouri.

 

Finger waggin'

The gestures of compassionate individuals aside, several countries have barely been able to conceal their delight to see the US struggling over human rights.

An editorial in China's state-run Xinhua media outlet ended with the pithy: 

"Obviously, what the United States needs to do is to concentrate on solving its own problems rather than always pointing fingers at others."

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei let loose on Twitter, criticizing the US for its human rights hypocrisy.

Germany was quick to say nothing of the sort could happen at home, and Russia — well. "Ferguson has been a gift to Russia’s propagandists," writes Max Seddon in Buzzfeed. They're all over it.

Even Amnesty International put its seal of disapproval on the situation, sending a 13-person delegation to Ferguson — the first time they had ever sent observers to a community inside the US that was in mid-crisis.

"Amnesty saw a human rights crisis in Ferguson and it's a human rights crisis that is escalating," said Steven Hawkins, executive director of Amnesty International USA.

So, what has the world learned about America from Ferguson?

Well, for starters it has learned that the US is a deeply flawed nation in need of as much oversight as anyone else.