Amid the torrent of images and videos related to the ongoing protests in Egypt, this clip from Al-Jazeera English has been making the rounds through the Twittersphere and on Tumblr's visually rich Egypt channel. While many observers on Tumblr have focused on the Al-Jazeera reporter's thorough evisceration of State Department official PJ Crowley's carefully constructed talking points, there's an interesting moment at 0:50 in which Crowley declares Mubarak's attempts to constrain Egyptian access to the Internet as a violation of a basic human right:
"We want to make sure that Egypt is not interfering with the use of social media," Crowley said. "That's a fundamental right as clear as walking into a town square."
Of course, as is noted in this video, the ongoing political violence and day-to-day struggles taking place in Egypt and elsewhere are probably more important than vaguer fascinations with a feel-good "Twitter revolution" circulating among the chattering classes or mainstream journalists, far from chaos in the streets of Cairo. But what's interesting here is that, despite the extremely complex relationship between the United States and Mubarak (as Shadi Hamid highlighted earlier this week on The Atlantic) and resulting diplomatic balancing act facing the Obama administration and members of the foreign service, the trope of Internet access as a fundamental right remains a salient feature in State Department talking points.