President Obama on Ferguson: U.S. Has Own Racial, Ethnic Tensions

(AP Photo/Richard Drew)

UNITED NATIONS (Politico) — Speaking to world leaders here on Wednesday about the need to reduce racial tensions and respect human rights, President Barack Obama pointed to the shooting of an unarmed, black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, last month as an example of America’s own failure to honor its moral values.

In an unusual reference to domestic U.S. shortcomings during a speech devoted to international issues, Obama noted that the death of 18-year-old African-American Michael Brown and the ensuing unrest had drawn worldwide attention even as major crises raged elsewhere on the planet.

“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,” Obama told the annual U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York. “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.”

Obama appeared to add the mention of Ferguson to inject a note of humility in a speech brimming with pronouncements on how the world should confront issues ranging from terrorism to climate change.

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