Open letter to the people of Egypt

Note: This article was originally published on November 26th, 2012 on the blog The Lighthouse.

The people of Egypt pushed their former president, Hosni Mubarak, to resign in 2011, motivating the countries that would become part of the Arab Spring to rebel against their leaders. Egyptians hoped for a better tomorrow, but many are disappointed by the current situation and believe the revolution was in vain.  They have voiced their opinion in movements such as “Egypt isn’t a ranch” in October and by shouting slogans such as “Morsi sold the revolution to become president”. Egyptians should not give up: revolutions do not solve a country’s problems overnight.

The goals of a revolution are not reached normally after one trial. The French Revolution in 1789, whose aim was to get rid of the monarchy and implement “equality, liberty and fraternity”, did not meet its objective initially. Although the French were successful in overthrowing King Louis XVI, the revolution was followed by a constitutional monarchy that lasted a year and the monarchy was later restored after the first French Empire. Even during the French Third Republic, an era in which the monarchy was long gone, Emile Zola showed in his book Germinal the inequalities in French society and how the rich exploited the poor. He even portrayed the bourgeois as the new monarchy. The aims of the French revolution were achieved over an extended period of time, although some might even argue that they have never been fully achieved. Still, France has come a long way since the time of the monarchy. The French strived for a better tomorrow and even though they had some failures, they did not give up. Egyptians must do the same so that their aspirations can be reached.

Demoralized Egyptians tend to believe that one person alone cannot change the world. They assume one should not attempt to change things in Egypt because the only possible outcome is failure. They are only partially right: no revolution was ever accomplished by one person alone. George Washington is often thought of as the symbol of the American Revolution, but the Founding Fathers and help from the French tend to be overlooked. They all worked together and to play their respective parts in the American Revolution. One of the key elements of the success of that revolution was the cooperation between powerful and influential individuals. That is not to say that people who were not of the stature of revolutionaries like Benjamin Franklin or George Washington did not have a part to play in a revolution: all people played a part, but those with power and assets needed to lead the charge, so to speak.

If Egyptians want their economy to recover, a functional government and to restore their country’s past glory, they must be willing to see the revolution through, gather all the resources they can and not despair. Over the past 100 years, Egyptians have shown great interest in the United-States, France and England. If there is one thing they must learn from these Western countries, it is how to lead a successful revolution.


Distorting Assassin’s Creed III

Note: This article was originally published on November 22nd, 2012 on the blog The Lighthouse

In its November 14th‘s editorial, The Globe and Mail accused Ubisoft Montreal of producing propaganda through its latest adventure game, Assassin’s Creed III, which is set during the American Revolution. The Canadian newspaper accused the Montreal-based studio of being biased towards American fans for economic reasons, of making false claims about the allegiance of Native Americans during colonial times, and of degrading the British, which is, according to The Globe and Mail, condescending towards Canada’s history. Most of the editorial is slander towards the game and Ubisoft Montreal.

The controversial Assassin’s Creed III Trailer

North American fans of the game can easily be lead to believe that Assassin’s Creed III is biased towards Americans because of Ubisoft Montreal’s North American advertising campaign. The game’s trailers do glorify the United-States, which is normal given the game’s historical context. Ubisoft Montreal had two advertising campaigns: one for North America and one for the United Kingdom. In the UK trailers, Connor Ratonhnhaké:ton Kenway, the game’s protagonist, can be seen killing American soldiers whereas the North American trailers were partially censored.  Long time fans of Assassin’s Creed know that the game is about a feud between the Assassins and the Templars. Connor’s goals are protecting his village and assassinating Templars and not winning the revolution for the Americans. Connor’s targets include both Brits and Americans.  Ubisoft Montreal may have censored their North American trailers to win over American fans, but the game itself does not favour the United-States.

The Globe and Mail claimed that First Nations fought side by side with the British during the war of 1812. That is irrelevant since the game is set during the American Revolution. Whether it was the war of 1812 or the American Revolution though, Native American tribes sided with European nations who could best serve their interests. As a result, some tribes were actually pitted against each other. The authors of the Globe‘s editorial probably made their bold claim because they were thinking of Joseph Thayendanegea Brandt, a Mohawk chief famous for fighting alongside the British during the American Revolution. Yet, Joseph Louis Cook (Akiatonharónkwen), an influential leader of African and Abenaki ancestry among the Mohawks, held a grudge against the British and fought them at Valley Forge. The rivalry between Brandt and Cook indeed divided the Mohawks. The Globe and Mail‘s argument is based on historical misconceptions and an oversimplification of history.

It seems that The Globe and Mail‘s editorial was more about boosting the popularity of the Queen of England and Canada’s British colonial past than pointing out historical inaccuracies. What better thing to do than attack a popular game developed in a popular studio based in Quebec, the province that has been most critical of England’s role in Canadian history?  If Canada wants to find its identity, it must, of course, remember its past, but it should not cling on to symbols that are contrary to its independence. Ubisoft Montreal worked with Mohawk consultants on the game and popular magazines and gaming websites have thoroughly reviewed Assassin’s Creed III. They did their homework: The Globe and Mail should have done theirs too.



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