So there has been some debate about the NYTimes article “Revolution, Facebook-style” which I posted about below and on the Foreign Policy Egypt Blog. Semi-Expert has taken issue with the article here for being what he calls “social pornography.” I am not about to criticize a Georgetown professor (I mean that respectfully-seriously), but I do agree that he is being a little harsh. I think he makes some interesting points about how articles like this paint Westerners’ perceptions of political and social issues in countries like Egypt, and he is not really incorrect in his criticisms but just maybe a little too critical.
The fact is that for the average New York Times reader, this is an informative piece touching upon a number of important political and social issues facing Egypt today. I think the positives here outweigh the issues Semi-Expert raises. And that fact that Ms. Shapiro does not speak Arabic to me is trivial, even if the “bint” issue was completely missed. While it would be nice if journalists were better linguists, being someone who does speak Arabic relatively well, I think it is unfair to discredit a whole article on this point.