Don't Credit Twitter for Egypt

Connecting social media to uprisings evidence of American ignorance
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 6, 2011 6:08 AM CST
Anti-government protesters form a human chain to prevent Egyptian Army tanks from clearing barricades, next to the Egyptian Museum at an entrance to Tahrir Square in Cairo, Saturday, Feb. 5, 2011.   (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

(Newser) – The American media's attempts to link the Egyptian protests to the Internet and online networking are just another sign of America's isolation and ignorance, writes Frank Rich in the New York Times. Rich calls the focus on Facebook and Twitter "implicit, simplistic Western chauvinism"—"How fabulous that two great American digital innovations can rescue the downtrodden, unwashed masses," he writes sarcastically, pointing out that only 20% of Egyptians have Internet access and the biggest protests happened after the Internet was turned off.

"Given the disconnect between America and the Arab world, it’s no wonder that Americans are invested in the fights for freedom in Egypt and its neighboring dictatorships only up to a point," says Rich. "We’ve been inculcated to assume that whoever comes out on top is ipso facto a jihadist." American ignorance ultimately hurts US foreign policy, says Rich. "That’s the legacy of years of self-censored, superficial, provincial and at times Islamophobic coverage of the Arab world in a large swath of American news media."

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