In remarks prepared for the United Nations General Assembly, President Barack Obama referenced the unrest in Ferguson, Mo., as one of the nation’s shortcomings as it grapples with racial and ethnic tensions.
In his speech on Wednesday, the president called for leadership in dealing with the current conflict between Israel and Palestine, as well as the growing unrest in Iraq, Syria and Libya. However, Obama did not shy away from acknowledging the problems the U.S. faces in its own backyard.
“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,” the president said. “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.
“But we welcome the scrutiny of the world—because what you see in America is a country that has steadily worked to address our problems and make our union more perfect. America is not the same as it was 100 years ago, 50 years ago or even a decade ago. Because we fight for our ideals and are willing to criticize ourselves when we fall short. Because we hold our leaders accountable and insist on a free press and independent judiciary,” he added. “Because we address our differences in the open space of democracy—with respect for the rule of law, with a place for people of every race and religion, and with an unyielding belief in the ability of individual men and women to change their communities and countries for the better.”