I don't know about you, but I've been busy tonight witnessing a revolution.
Egypt is a country of 80 million people. They've just experienced a largely peaceful revolution, overthrowing a dictator—who fully deserves the cliché evil dictator—without resorting to bombs, aerial attacks, UN peacekeepers, or any of the "democracy enhancement" techniques we've seen so often. As President Obama just said, they "put lie to the idea that justice is best gained by violence."
The new democracy is in its infancy, and I expect there will be some stumbles as it feels its way toward freedom. But that's no reason to discount what has been an amazing 18 days.
Tonight I watched as a jubilant crowd lofted an Army soldier up on someone's shoulders, the crowd swaying toward him, eager to congratulate him. Throughout the weeks of protest, the Army held its fire, vowing repeatedly not to fire upon the people. In the end, the Army insisted that Hosni Mubarak step down, after turning their tank turrets away from the crowds.
Another soldier told an old man, "Congratulations, sir. God willing we'll have an Egypt that will make you proud."
On top of a tank, a young soldier posed for a photo with a baby who had been thrust into his arms.
A taxi driver ditched his fare—a reporter and his cameraman—and went to dance in the street.
Egyptians everywhere are proud, and rightly so, of their country tonight. The famous Egyptian humor was evident even in the bitter disappointment on Thursday night, when Mubarak refused to step aside. An apt tweet quickly made the rounds: "Uninstalling dictator..99% complete." And, later: "Uninstalling dictator COMPLETE - installing now: egypt 2.0."
For the last week or so, I've been riveted to the coverage. Not just out of curiosity, or a desire to participate, from a safe distance, in a major media event. But to add my eyes to the millions of us watching the revolution.
I feel very strongly that if the eyes of the world had not been on Egypt these last few days, the revolution could have ended up very differently. Al Jazeera kept their cameras trained on Tahrir Square, even when their reporters were threatened, detained, their offices overrun with state police, their equipment confiscated, and their licence to broadcast was pulled. They sent reporters to other cities, where protests were met with fierce repression from the regime. They interviewed countless experts from the region, not "on" but "from" the region—a distinction that gave their coverage a depth that Western media couldn't match.
And while the revolution may have started on Facebook—a threat the regime took seriously enough to imprison the founder of the Arabic Facebook page credited with starting the uprising, Google executive Wael Ghonim—it was by no means a Facebook revolution, any more than it was a Twitter revolution.
This revolution belongs to the people of Egypt, as Ghonim said: "Every Egyptian was the face of this revolution."
Here are some photos someone posted on Twitter. Witness the revolution, i.e. Egypt 2.0!