Treating America’s Oppression on the Foreign Stage
July 3rd, 2022 by Ashwin Telang
For years, America has criticized international horrors. From the misogynistic Taliban to Russia’s political prison to the Uyghur genocide, America has taken a stand. Disorientingly, America’s strong stance is undermined by its domestic issues. A powerful international voice starts with a healthy homefront.
During a press conference, Putin dodged responding to his jailing of innocent journalists. Instead, he said that “America just recently had very severe events, well-known events, after the killing of an African American…What we saw was disorder, destruction, violations of the law.” Such rhetoric, although accurate, does not excuse Russia’s infringement on freedom of speech.
It also diminishes the US’ credibility on international grounds. If the US has oppressive events, who is it to criticize other atrocities? Putin concluded that “We feel sympathy for the United States of America, but we don’t want [racism] to happen on our territory. We’re doing our utmost in order to not allow it to happen.” I will concede that Russia is cunningly strategic — using another country to steer clear of addressing its wrongdoing.
That calls into question: Does the US employ this same strategy? Do politicians harp on foreign issues to deflect the focus from American issues? But it isn’t only Russia. The other global superpower has followed suit. China, in 2021, released a report accusing the US of chronic racism. Take note of how this specific issue is mainly criticized among many countries— ironic, eh. It’s also interesting to put yourselves in a Chinese citizen’s shoes. Perhaps they view us as we view them. America largely denounces China’s continued oppression and cultural eradication of Uyghurs. But in China, most view America as a disorganized hub of discrimination and divide — a characterization that is not entirely incorrect. North Korea’s Kim Jong-un highlighted racial injustices disseminated under the Trump administration. Yet most criticisms like this are not sincere. Rather, they are a ploy used to cover national mishaps and divert attention to the other side of the globe.
If the US wants to effectively subvert dictatorial regimes abroad, the first step starts with solving racial issues. Police accountability and reform are of the essence. Fundamentally training police non-violent methods and implementing body cameras is just one solution. Bridging the wealth gap is another. The widening disparities primarily fuel protest movements. Tax cuts and wealth redistributions may ease the sizable gap. Without fixing America’s long-standing racist traditions, an American voice against foreign atrocities will be hypocritical.
While your control of foreign issues may be limited, your contributions in America can make all the difference. Urge your politicians to implement mitigatory policies. Donate and join organizations such as NAACP and the ACLU. By contributing, your influence helps fix not only America’s oppression but also the globe’s. Even 80 years ago, when the Soviet Union was excoriated for its human rights violations, its response was “and you lynch blacks.” Perpetuating the “you’re worse” rhetoric only promotes a dangerous environment. To resign from these rhetorical wars and assert a trustworthy platform, the US must begin with its very own racism.