This video went instantly viral, was posted everywhere and became a cause célèbre within moments.
It is no doubt well made, powerful and tragic and wants you to act immediately. This is the message that accompanies it.
GET INVOLVED. STOP AT NOTHING. THE WORLD MUST KNOW.
I dare you to stop scrolling through your dashboard. Stop checking your Facebook newsfeed that you’ve already checked two seconds ago. Stop updating your Twitter and seeing what your favorite celebrities are saying. Stop watching funny and nonsense videos on Youtube. Take time to educate yourself to MAKE A DIFFERENCE in this world. This is your chance! WATCH THIS VIDEO.
Let’s make JOSEPH KONY Famous!!
Who is JOSEPH KONY?
He is THE WORST LIVING CRIMINAL. He abducts children and makes them use guns to kill their own parents. He takes girls and forces them to be sex slaves. He calls his abducted children the Lord’s Resistance Army, AKA the LRA. He has abducted over 30,000 children and forced them to be child soldiers in Central Africa. He remains at large because he is INVISIBLE to the world. FEW know his name, even FEWER know his crimes. WE ARE MAKING HIM FAMOUS! Because when he is, the world will unite against him and demand his arrest.
We can help make a change. We can make a difference.
I feel so inspired. I feel the need to help and make a difference. This has to happen in 2012. We can’t let him go around and keep doing this to children in Central Africa. Let’s make his name known so he can be stopped. HE CAN NO LONGER BE INVISIBLE!
REBLOG IF YOU CARE.
This will not make your blog ugly, please take a moment to reblog and get the word out. SHARE THIS TO EVERYONE! Be a part of something BIG and when they catch this man, you would be able to say.. “I HELPED.”
Gripping right? You’re enraged, you will give them money or go to Uganda yourself. Hell, George Clooney, Jay Z and Bono want you to! Of course this is the first you’ve heard of it but it doesn’t matter, these kids need your help now, not your waffling! There is no time to wait or look into this further. Or is there?
Well I did look into it, and I was forced to explore current Ugandan politics which I hadn’t thought much about since the days of Idi Amin. The first post that caused me to question this was on Reddit, which linked me to this Tumblr. Please read it yourself and all the links within it, but in short it lays out the fact that Invisible Children is trying to influence direct military intervention, and their money supports the Ugandan government’s army and various other military forces. It states…
Military intervention may or may not be the right idea, but people supporting KONY 2012 probably don’t realize they’re supporting the Ugandan military who are themselves raping and looting away. If people know this and still support Invisible Children because they feel it’s the best solution based on their knowledge and research, I have no issue with that. But I don’t think most people are in that position, and that’s a problem.
Is awareness good? Yes. But these problems are highly complex, not one-dimensional and, frankly, aren’t of the nature that can be solved by postering, film-making, and changing your Facebook profile picture, as hard as that is to swallow. Giving your money and public support to Invisible Children so they can spend it on supporting ill-advised violent intervention and movie #12 isn’t helping. Do I have a better answer? No, I don’t, but that doesn’t mean that you should support KONY 2012 just because it’s something. Something isn’t always better than nothing. Sometimes it’s worse.
And in this piece written by Ugandan Musa Okwonga, he states
Everyone agrees that this a hugely important issue, but Invisible Children’s methods have come in for searing criticism; most scathingly, they have been attacked as “neo-liberal, do-good Whiteness”. Elsewhere, Foreign Affairs has provided some important context on this matter, in relation to Uganda’s strategic importance to the USA. I would also recommend the Twitter feed of Laura Seay, who was moved to comment this morning that “[Solomme Lemma] is tweeting links to great community-based organizations working in Northern Uganda. Give there if you really want to help.
I understand the anger and resentment at Invisible Children’s approach, which with its paternalism has unpleasant echoes of colonialism. I will admit to being perturbed by its apparent top-down prescriptiveness, when so much diligent work is already being done at Northern Uganda’s grassroots. On the other hand, I am very happy – relieved, more than anything – that Invisible Children have raised worldwide awareness of this issue. Murderers and torturers tend to prefer anonymity, and if not that then respectability: that way, they can go about their work largely unhindered. For too many years, the subject of this trending topic on Twitter was only something that I heard about in my grandparents’ living room, as relatives and family friends gathered for fruitless and frustrated hours of discussion. Watching the video, though, I was concerned at the simplicity of the approach that Invisible Children seemed to have taken.
The thing is that Joseph Kony has been doing this for a very, very, very long time. He emerged about a quarter of a century [ago], which is about the same time that Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni came to power. As a result the fates of these two leaders must, I think, be viewed together. Yet, though President Museveni must be integral to any solution to this problem, I didn’t hear him mentioned once in the 30-minute video. I thought that this was a crucial omission. Invisible Children asked viewers to seek the engagement of American policymakers and celebrities, but – and this is a major red flag – it didn’t introduce them to the many Northern Ugandans already doing fantastic work both in their local communities and in the diaspora. It didn’t ask its viewers to seek diplomatic pressure on President Museveni’s administration.
About ten minutes into the video, the narrator asks his young son who “the bad guy” in Uganda is; when his young son hesitates, he informs him that Joseph Kony is the bad guy. In a sense, he let Kony off lightly: he is a monster. But what the narrator also failed to do was mention to his son that when a bad guy like Kony is running riot for years on end, raping and slashing and seizing and shooting, then there is most likely another host of bad guys out there letting him get on with it. He probably should have told him that, too.
I don’t think that Invisible Children are naïve. I don’t think that President Obama was ever blind to this matter either: his own father, a Kenyan, hails from the Luo, the same tribal group that has suffered so much at the hands of Kony. My hunch – and hope – is that they see this campaign as a way to encourage wider and deeper questions about wholly inadequate governance in this area of Africa.
And more information was found here that tells us this problem is not quite the issue it once was.
Uganda is no longer experiencing violence from the LRA. Yes, I said it. It’s an uncomfortable truth, but it is a truth. For about the last year, since before IC hit the scene, Kony and his troops have been pushed into Congo, into the Garamba National Forest there. He’s sick, starving, and on his last legs. For the first time, Uganda is in the middle of real peace talks and the rebels have laid down their arms and are assembling to make peace. Why? This is happening because Joseph Kony was defeated. The Uganda People’s Defense Force (UPDF) has beaten them back and Kony was sitting in Congo starving to death. Since March 2002, the UPDF has been allowed to carry out raids against the LRA into Southern Sudan and has even crossed into Congo, to the distress of most of the African community. Nonetheless, Operation Iron Fist, as this military offensive was called, has freed many child soldiers and sex slaves and brought them back to Uganda. The rebels again became very violent in 2003, but since 2004, the Ugandan government has been repeatedly beating the rebels and weakening them. Uganda is no longer allowed to enter Sudan or Congo to fight the LRA.
Invisible Children was founded in 2004, with the film crew filming in Uganda in 2003. Watching Invisible Children is watching old news. Will watching it alert you to what has occurred in Uganda? Yes, but it will not let you know what is happening there today.
Invisible Children is too late. It has taught us that MTV type media can get university students interested in a world crisis, the problem is it took too much time. Night commuting, outlined as one of the major problems in northern Uganda by the film, is practically non-existent now. Why? Peace is coming to the region. According to UN reports, children who still are commuting at night are not doing it because of safety concerns, but because they want to enjoy the amenities that NGO’s are offering in the towns, like Gulu, Kitgum, and Lira. At the peak of the commuting, there were between 30,000 and 40,000 children commuting. Now, estimates are below 10,000.
And this post has more facts about the charity itself that need to be investigated.
The organization behind Kony 2012 — Invisible Children Inc. — is an extremely shady nonprofit that has been called ”misleading,” “naive,” and “dangerous” by a Yale political science professor, and has been accused byForeign Affairs of “manipulat[ing] facts for strategic purposes.” They have also been criticized by the Better Business Bureau for refusing to provide information necessary to determine if IC meets the Bureau’s standards.
Additionally, IC has a low two-star rating in accountability from Charity Navigator because they won’t let their financials be independently audited. That’s not a good thing. In fact, it’s a very bad thing, and should make you immediately pause and reflect on where the money you’re sending them is going.
By IC’s own admission, only 31% of all the funds they receive go toward actually helping anyone [pdf]. The rest go to line the pockets of the three people in charge of the organization, to pay for their travel expenses (over $1 million in the last year alone) and to fund their filmmaking business (also over a million) — which is quite an effective way to make more money, as clearly illustrated by the fact that so many can’t seem to stop forwarding their well-engineered emotional blackmail to everyone they’ve ever known.
So yes, Invisible Children should be applauded for bringing awareness to this problem and Joseph Kony is a monster, but the problem itself is messy and complex and hoping a pile of American dollars will bury Kony so we can forget about him and feel better about ourselves is not the answer.
[Ed note: Uganda's parliament has for the past year bandied about a "Kill the Gays Bill," which seeks to make homosexuality a crime punishable by death. The Ugandan government and its dictator, Yoweri Museveni, have been involved with ongoing wars, border skirmishes, and short military conflicts with Rwanda, and Congo for natural resources. Are we really going to send money and "military support" to this?]
Updated: This is the response from Invisible Children on the criticisms against them. We are posting it without comment for now.
This is another good summary of information.
And yet another good writeup countering Invisible Children’s response here.
And this article suggests Invisible Children may have more than just a secular agenda.
And this article offers a defense of some of the good they’ve done, while recognizing some of the video’s faults.
Here is an interview with the photographer who took the photo of the Invisible Children team holding guns.
This is an article by a reporter in Foreign Policy with a lot more information and these facts:
It would be great to get rid of Kony. He and his forces have left abductions and mass murder in their wake for over 20 years.
But let’s get two things straight:
1) Joseph Kony is not in Uganda and hasn’t been for six years;
2) The LRA now numbers at most in the hundreds, and while it is still causing immense suffering, it is unclear how millions of well-meaning but misinformed people are going to help deal with the more complicated reality.
Referenced is a Ugandan Journalist who says this about the video and movement in his article.
So why the misleading campaign? Why now? What does it profit to market the infamy of a man already famous for his crimes and whose capture is already on the agenda? Critics of Invisible Children are also likely to be critics of foreign aid and by extension the place of Western charities in the mis-education of western publics about the realities of Africa. The real danger of the game-show type “pornography of violence” that Invisible Children as made so appealing also has a dangerous hold on policy types in Washington DC whose access to information and profiles of issues is as limited.
Recent examples of the impact of evangelizing NGO’s can be seen from the distortions of the Save Darfur Coalition to a recent mining ban in the DRC under the guise of saving hapless Africans. The simplicity of the “good versus evil”, where good is inevitably white/western and bad is black or African, is also reminiscent of some of the worst excesses of the colonial era interventions. These campaigns don’t just lack scholarship or nuance. They are not bothered to seek it.
Like a colleague once told me a campaign such as this cannot be mounted about peace in the Middle East because that would require actual scholarship and knowledge of the issues.
Many African critics unsurprisingly are crying neo-colonialism. This is because these campaigns are disempowering of their own voices. After all the conflict and suffering is affecting them directly regardless of if they hit the re-tweet button or not. At the end of the day the Kony2012 campaign will not make Joseph Kony more famous but it will make Invisible Children famous. It will also make many, including P.Diddy, feel like they have contributed some good to his capture- assuming Kony is even alive. For many in the conflict prevention community including those who worry about the militarization of it in Central Africa this campaign is just another nightmare that will end soon. Hopefully.
We just write a followup to this article with some information about how this campaign could be manipulated into the thirst for Ugandan Oil.
We are posting and updating this to let you make an informed opinion on this organization. Again, no matter what, we applaud them for bringing more attention to the plight of children in Africa.