This blog post is a bit off topic but I felt it necessary to post. Many of you would have seen the viral video on KONY 2012 with over 38 million views and 1 million likes despite being only 4 days old.
It touches hearts, sure. Kony is a monster, sure. But it misrepresents and reduces what is a complicated struggle between several tyrants into a propaganda movement to support the also corrupt and violent Ugandan government (who also used children soldiers and perhaps murdered more people than Kohn). More importantly, if the message of the video is followed, it will possibly cause more damage than good.
The arguments against the video are laid out much more clearly in the following two links (which I highly recommend for you to read in full):
Excerpt from: Open Letter to the Founders of Kony 2012 via the Rising Continent:
President Museveni is still in power and in his reign of 26 years he has arguably killed as many, if not more Acholi people, than Joseph Kony. Why is President Museveni not demonized, let alone mentioned? I would like to give you more credit than just ignorance. I have three guesses. One is that Invisible Children has close ties with the Ugandan government and military, which it has been accused of many times. Second, is that you are willing to fight Kony, but not the U.S. Government, which openly supports President Museveni. Third, is that Invisible Children feels the need to reduce the conflict to better commercialize it.
In your video you urge that the first course of action is that the Ugandan military needs American military and weapons. You are giving weapons to the very people who were killing the Acholi people in the first place. You are helping to open the grounds for America to make Uganda into a battlefield in which it can profit and gain power. Please recognize this is all part of a bigger military movement, not a humanitarian movement. This will cause deaths, not save lives. This will be doing more harm, than good.
Except from: The Problem with Invisible Children’s Kony 2012 via Huffington Post
Kony is a grotesque war criminal, to be sure, but the Ugandan government currently in power also came to power through the use of kadogo (child soldiers) and fought alongside militias employing child soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo, something that Invisible Children seem wilfully ignorant of.
The problem with Invisible Children’s whitewashing of the role of the government of Uganda’s president Yoweri Museveni in the violence of Central Africa is that it gives Museveni and company a free pass, and added ammunition with which to bludgeon virtually any domestic opposition, such as Kizza Besigye and the Forum for Democratic Change.
By blindly supporting Uganda’s current government and its military adventures beyond its borders, as Invisible Children suggests that people do, Invisible Children is in fact guaranteeing that there will be more violence, not less, in Central Africa.
Another post on the issue attacking Invisible Children in particular: Concerning Kony 2012
Despite the great production values and bringing attention to a cause that would have otherwise gone unnoticed, KONY 2012, to me the story isn’t about how horrible Kony is (which he is btw) or even how messed up the Invisible Children charity is, but how people can be easily manipulated by social media. For those of us, sitting in our comfortable homes many thousand of miles away (and I betcha a great majority of you (myself included) weren’t able to even point Uganda on a map of Africa), the lesson is that we should do our research before sharing links especially those with strong messages and calls to action.
Face it, people in general aren’t going to be bothered to do in depth research on the issue, especially when it’s posted by friends we trust. So if we’re going to share an important message, make sure it’s the RIGHT MESSAGE. With social media, everyone is now a mini-journalist, and we should, in this new era where everyone has a voice, have added responsibilities of at least certain levels of journalistic integrity and fact checking.
Be compassionate but be skeptical.