As you read this, one of the most persuasive and successful human rights based Internet viral campaigns I have ever seen is underway and blanketing the entire Internet. Invisible children's "Kony 2012" campaign is currently trending on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and just about every other social media network you could possibly think of. In fact the way the video has called so many people to action is very impressive. However, there is a giant problem: the entire media campaign doesn't reflect the realities of northern Uganda nor does it reflect the true attitudes of its people. Today I'm going to try to examine the claims made in the "Kony 2012" video and sort out the actual truth for you but I encourage you to do your own independent research as well.
Now before you get upset and say that I should not be talking about Invisible Children in such a negative manner because they do many things to help Ugandans let me explain that I am no way saying that the work this organization does advocating on behalf of Ugandans isn't noble and necessary. I do find it upsetting that an organization like this would use misconstrued facts and human emotion as a fundraising ploy with no real intention of doing anything about the issue that they are advocating.
The main purpose of Kony 2012 is about making Joseph Kony, the leader of the notorious The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) famous because at least in opinion of "Kony 2012" if everyone knew who he was nobody would be able to stand idly by as he waged a brutal campaign of terror.
I find this whole idea that "Kony isn't popular enough" rather ridiculous. The sad reality is that very few people do not know who Joseph Kony is in East Africa and the Great Lakes Region, making it all too apparent that this Internet campaign Is not about them, their views or their experiences. What is even more puzzling is that Joseph Kony is actually one of the most known alleged war criminals in the whole world (including in the United States). This is in large part due to all of the advocacy work done by Western non-governmental organizations including Invisible Children and the Enough Project as well as the ICC arrest warrants issued against Kony and his senior command.
I would understand this argument had been made 20 or 30 years ago before the age of the Internet when the misery plaguing northern Uganda for the most part flew under the radar. Heck, I even understand it if this was a campaign about what's going on as far as the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo because that is an area that it has become impossible for outsiders to get information about. A campaign in this day and age built on the premise that Joseph Kony isn't a famous enough is downright laughable and extremely hard to believe.
Another point I'd like to bring up that really struck me as odd about the video is where the northern Ugandans? I mean that's what this documentary was about right? Then why does it feature a five-year-old white boy than any of these Northern Ugandan victims or survivors? Ironically this documentary which is supposed to bring a voice to the Ugandans with the exception of the adolescent northern Ugandan victim, Jacob, the voices of northern Ugandans go for the most part completely on hard.
Why would they do this you ask? It is rather simple to understand you see the views of northern Ugandans were not considered because quite frankly they do not fit with the narrative of the film and would detract from any fundraising opportunities the "Kony 2012" is banking on.
This is why the "Kony 2012 video purposely avoided stepping into the whole Peace-Justice Debate because the world we are in as split views, including those expressed by Northern Ugandans themselves which would make for a less viral fundraising campaign if half of the viewers had opposing views. Nobody's arguing that Kony isn't a bad person or LRA combatants should be brought to justice the only real argument comes is what laws they should face American law or Ugandan law?
If you have watched the film then you know that the "Kony 2012" people have not really proposed a real answer to how to end the conflict they simply want to make a warlord famous and sell bracelets in order to raise money. When you get to the bottom of the matter however that is the main thing that bothers me is the whole raising money issue. You see the Invisible Children is a registered nonprofit charity and because of that their finances are made public. Last year, the organization spent $8,676,614. Only 32% went to direct services (Link to financial statement) with the rest of it going towards staff salaries, travel and transportation and the bulk of it going towards film production. Now education is a good thing especially in this day and age where people are more likely to watch a YouTube video then to read a blog post such as this but not when organizations like the Invisible Children according to the office of foreign affairs "manipulates facts for strategic purposes, exaggerating the scale of LRA abductions and murders and emphasizing the LRA's use of innocent children as soldiers, and portraying Kony — a brutal man, to be sure — as uniquely awful, a Kurtz-like embodiment of evil." He's certainly evil, but exaggeration and manipulation to capture the public eye is unproductive, unprofessional and dishonest.
Bottom line in my opinion this organization pretty much took a topic that any decent human being would care greatly about and decided to use that decent human emotion we all have as a fundraising method and not as an attempt to make any true changes. It's shameful and a true disservice to all the people of Uganda and the plight they are currently in. What I would suggest you doing is not buying one of those stupid bracelets or even supporting a dishonest organization like this but instead contact your elected officials and keep the conversation about the people of Uganda and that awful man Joseph Kony and not this ridiculous Kony 2012 social network movement.
EDIT For those of you who are emailing me saying that I'm wrong. Let me just state that this is my opinion and it's just that an opinion. I mainly put this up becat'sch was way back in 2002. They basically just found the cause they could add some MTV-esque video bits to the order to create buzz and get money. Money which the majority is not even being spent on the people of Uganda. It would be like somebody using September 11th to promote their cause against terrorism and convincing people that New York is still like that today a heaping pile of rubble.
A little-known fact about this organization is that they actually support the UPDF which in some people's opinion is actually far worse than the LRA because sure they don't force people would join them they have only been accused of raping women and children and using looting from poor farmers and villagers.
I agree that Kony needs to go but all this group is doing is using slick video editing to raise money yet offer no real solution for this problem. It should be known as well that LRA and the UPDF have now signed a second peace accord quite a few years ago and it's actually been a while since there's been any actual fighting. No matter how many videos this group puts out the United States isn't going to get involved unless there's some benefit to us. Remember Rwanda?