Watching the scenes out of Egypt unfold on my iPhone, I feel the need to update my Facebook profile to let my friends know how upset I am about the situation. Opening the emails that keep me up to date on the protests and the twitter feeds from around the world, it dawns on me just how dependent we all are on the internet for information.
Of all the lessons to be learned from the current situation in Egypt perhaps the starkest is “There but for the grace of congress go I”. Egypt’s not so secret kill switch to effectively turn off the internet has many advocates here at home. A bill to implement similar regulations in the US is on the table before Congress. While the debate rages on both sides of the political spectrum about Egypt’s policies, bloggers everywhere are taking sides on how these protests relate to the US, and our constant fight for freedom of speech.
Chris Hedges from truthdig.com warns readers not to get caught up in this debate:
Don’t be fooled by the glib sloganeering about democracy or the facile reporting by Western reporters—few of whom speak Arabic or have experience in the region. Egyptians are not Americans. They have their own culture, their own sets of grievances and their own history. And it is not ours.
Well, yes of course their culture is different. But if freedom of speech and the ability to communicate is not a fundamental right, a fundamental desire, for all people, then what is Mr. Hedges? The internet blackout this week cast a very harsh light on what happens when a leader refuses to allow his people the ability to speak. Can it happen here?
It can. And it is. But you won’t be hearing about it from this administration. Mum’s the word, eh Obama?