Supporting the actions against Kony with the Kony 2012 campaign (see our explanation on Kony 2012 here) is currently consisting of all action but little thought. The intent is there, but let’s go through the other ways to make a difference.
Whilst the outreach to stop this guerrilla gang of conservatives is a heartening idea, there is so much more to it. Stopping slavery is always easier said than done.
The charity behind the idea – Invisible Children – is one without its own set of controversy. Such as the recent issue raised in November last year, when a Foreign Affairs article reproached Invisible Children and some of its partner organizations and stated that the organizations were manipulating many of the facts for strategic purposes – this included exaggerating the scale of LRA abductions and murders and severely emphasizing the LRA’s use of innocent children as soldiers, and portraying Kony – a terrible man performing terrible acts – as worse than that, much like the ‘’new Hitler’.
Robert Mugabe was never brought down. Justice was not served.
Uganda‘s President Idi Amin and the terror squads operating under his loose direction killed 100,000 Ugandans in the seven years he held power and the genocide commissioned by his senseless actions were never brought to any type of “justice”.
Kony is nothing compared to Amin or Hitler – these types of labels are just to provoke society to think fast when hearing about how we should be taking down this guy.
The organization behind this campaign has dubbed Joseph Kony as “the world’s biggest criminal” – but in this day and age slavery, warlords and murder is really not as harsh as some of the atrocities performed by governments and conflicts surrounding places such as Syria. The issue with what seems like a vast majority of people these days is that they assume ‘destroying the destroyer’ will lead to prosperity but go on and research Egypt, Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq – all of which have lost their vicious leaders and still haven’t been subject to a regime change or justice. Chris Blattman, who is a political scientist at Yale wrote about this type of thing and an interesting point made was that
“There’s also something inherently misleading, naive, maybe even dangerous, about the idea of rescuing children or saving of Africa. […] It hints uncomfortably of the White Man’s Burden. Worse, sometimes it does more than hint. The savior attitude is pervasive in advocacy, and it inevitably shapes programming. Usually misconceived programming.”
I’m not suggesting that Kony’s a bad guy, but he isn’t unknown to political leaders. The US has been involved in stopping him for years. U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) even sent multiple missions to capture or kill Kony over the years but each mission has resulted in a negative response and has increased retaliative slaughter. The issue with taking out a man who uses a child army is that his bodyguards are children.
Any effort to capture or kill Kony will almost certainly result in the death of children, a tragedy that we are supposed to be trying to stop. Each attempt brings more retaliation. And yet Invisible Children supports military intervention.
What makes things a little harsh is that Invisible Children currently holds almost $7 million US dollars worth of assets. Yes this is just an extravagant purchase for the equipment they need – but that’s more than half of their 2011 earnings. The co-founders of the organization are given a combined annual wage of $270,000. (sources here via WordswithMeaning! Research Team) – perhaps this is irrelevant? We all need money to survive, but do we really need all that expensive equipment to make a difference? Furthermore, how many people have looked into the facts that IC donate a large portion of their funds to the US military.
People are looking at alternative ways to support Central Africa and those impacted more directly, with less focus on awareness and more on action. One preliminary list of charities comes from researching these organizations
With a large percentage of funding going towards the American Government – Invisible Children might be provoking American military intervention. If you can do the research on why military intervention does more damage than good, then you will perhaps agree.
And if the US (a.k.a Police of the World) decide to intervene, would it help? This IS the same military that has a reputation for abusing children and innocent civilians in times of war. (See the confessions of a US soldier detailing this here)
This is yet another propaganda filled campaign - people should have more knowledge when it comes to the matter. They mean well, but so do thousands of others. The video that Invisible Children uploaded to YouTube is abusing the obvious sentimentalism bathed in sensationalism to entice people, without realizing the true strategy behind bringing a warlord down. I respect that ALL OF US should make an effort to bring slavery to an end, but for most people, this doesn’t concern them and they don’t understand how complicated this mission would be. You can spread the word, but only the actions can truly spread a message.