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Old 03-07-2012, 09:31 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Kony 2012

This campaign is really huge right now, everybody is talking about it all over facebook, twitter and tumblr. Around 3000 people are taking part in Glasgow alone, don't know what the situation is around the rest of the country. Here is the video at the center of the campaign.

Basically it's to raise awareness about a war in Africa and this war criminal named Joseph Kony. They are giving away t-shirts and bracelets, trying to "make Kony famous".
Here is the article I read opposing the campaign.
Visible Children - KONY 2012 Criticism
It makes good points. So what do you guys think? Is this a worthy cause or will it do more damage than good?
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Old 03-07-2012, 10:16 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I think the intentions are good, but I'm not sure how much good it's really doing (as in helping find him).
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Old 03-07-2012, 10:20 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I read that article I linked and it talks about how they have tried to capture him before and it's just resulted in slaughter. If his soldiers are kids and they're being killed then I don't think I really agree with this campaign. The guy needs to be stopped but I can't take part if it just causes more violence.
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Old 03-07-2012, 10:30 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
For those asking what you can do to help, please link to visiblechildren.tumblr.com wherever you see KONY 2012 posts.

UPDATE: Facebook has blocked this blog. Complain here and post on Facebook about visiblechildren.tumblr[dot]com instead. And tweet a link to this page to famous people on Twitter who are talking about KONY 2012!

I do not doubt for a second that those involved in KONY 2012 have great intentions, nor do I doubt for a second that Joseph Kony is a very evil man. But despite this, I’m strongly opposed to the KONY 2012 campaign.

KONY 2012 is the product of a group called Invisible Children, a controversial activist group and not-for-profit. They’ve released 11 films, most with an accompanying bracelet colour (KONY 2012 is fittingly red), all of which focus on Joseph Kony. When we buy merch from them, when we link to their video, when we put up posters linking to their website, we support the organization. I don’t think that’s a good thing, and I’m not alone.

Invisible Children has been condemned time and time again. As a registered not-for-profit, its finances are public. Last year, the organization spent $8,676,614. Only 32% went to direct services (page 6), with much of the rest going to staff salaries, travel and transport, and film production. This is far from ideal, and Charity Navigator rates their accountability 2/4 stars because they haven’t had their finances externally audited. But it goes way deeper than that.

The group is in favour of direct military intervention, and their money funds the Ugandan government’s army and various other military forces. Here’s a photo of the founders of Invisible Children posing with weapons and personnel of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army. Both the Ugandan army and Sudan People’s Liberation Army are riddled with accusations of rape and looting, but Invisible Children defends them, arguing that the Ugandan army is “better equipped than that of any of the other affected countries”, although Kony is no longer active in Uganda and hasn’t been since 2006 by their own admission.

Still, the bulk of Invisible Children’s spending isn’t on funding African militias, but on awareness and filmmaking. Which can be great, except that Foreign Affairs has claimed that Invisible Children (among others) “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.

As Christ Blattman, a political scientist at Yale, writes on the topic of IC’s programming, “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.”

Still, Kony’s a bad guy, and he’s been around a while. Which is why the US has been involved in stopping him for years. U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) has sent multiple missions to capture or kill Kony over the years. And they’ve failed time and time again, each provoking a ferocious response and 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 him will almost certainly result in many children’s deaths, an impact that needs to be minimized as much as possible. Each attempt brings more retaliation. And yet Invisible Children supports military intervention. Kony has been involved in peace talks in the past, which have fallen through. But Invisible Children is now focusing on military intervention.

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.

If you want to write to your Member of Parliament or your Senator or the President or the Prime Minister, by all means, go ahead. If you want to post about Joseph Kony’s crimes on Facebook, go ahead. But let’s keep it about Joseph Kony, not KONY 2012.

~ Grant Oyston, visiblechildren@grantoyston.com

Grant Oyston is a sociology and political science student at Acadia University in Nova Scotia, Canada. You can help spread the word about this by linking to his blog at visiblechildren.tumblr[dot]com anywhere you see posts about KONY 2012.
Found this on my tumblr feed, felt I should probably share it here as well.

I mean they at least brought attention to someone most people would be willing to just cynically dismiss as an unfortunate part of day-to-day life in that region, but after reading through some of the links associated to what I've quoted, I'm not sure if I would want to be seen supporting this group.
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Old 03-07-2012, 11:53 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Here's another interesting article on the topic that I found earlier today.

I got into a few talks with people on different statuses about this whole thing. One fine young lady said it was "stupid" because it was critical of Invisible Children. Oh okay so you're getting upset over legitimate criticism of an organization you found out about, when, like yesterday?
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Old 03-08-2012, 12:54 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by LoathsomePete View Post
Last year, the organization spent $8,676,614. Only 32% went to direct services (page 6), with much of the rest going to staff salaries, travel and transport, and film production.
You know, if only 1/3 of my donation went to actual relief while the other 2/3 went to PR bull**** and travel expenses, I'd be mad too. Then again, I've never actually donated to an African relief fund so I can't complain since 32% > 0%.
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Old 03-08-2012, 11:38 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I only support military action when it's related to defending my nation and its immediate allies, for a few reasons:

(1) There is no such thing as a humanitarian military expedition; groups that lobby for such expeditions invariably have a motive, a realpolitik motive. They simply dress their expeditions up in the language of human rights, a current example being the sabre rattling against Syria, which is largely promoted by Sunni interests (see, Saudi Arabia) and Likudniks.

(2) Those crying out for such intervention either (1) invert the relationship between a society's superstructure & base, and/or (2) believe we can radically change these nations via some sort of nation building-lite. How people can believe this in the face of empirical failures such Afghanistan, Iraq, Vietnam, (etc.), is beyond me.

(3) I believe our values our unique to our people, and that exporting them via guns & bombs is another form of imperialism, which offers no tangible benefits to the exporter.


...for those wondering what I was referring to by superstructure, see:

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Old 03-09-2012, 03:17 PM   #8 (permalink)
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This is disgusting. His crimes are, but the supporters of this campaign are worse. Nobody gives a shit about the children. Everybody's needed someone to hate since Bin Laden was killed and this is ripe for the picking. You don't care. You just like the thrill of the manhunt.
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Old 03-09-2012, 04:14 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I'm surprised at the small amount of posts in this thread, I expected it to be a widely discussed topic.

Personally I think the video is exceptional in the way they've managed to get such a large amount of the population interested in something which has been going on for 20 years, although I am critical of the organisation (invisible children) and the likely outcomes of what it's campaign will lead to. I don't think too much of their money expenditures; from a business perspective the way they've advertised is only likely to bring in more people donating; which in theory is a good thing.

I've tried to keep up with all the articles being posted about this (there's a hell of a lot), and there's a lot of criticism online, but very little in the mainstream media... To me it just seems like they're creating a figure to hate, very similar to Bin Laden. I'd heard about the LRA situation in Uganda about 2 years ago, but even then I knew that Uganda was in a state of recovering from the crisis, and it's only recently that anything is being done about it. It reminds me of the fact that very few people I know seem to know little to nothing about the Rwandan genocide.

It seems strange to me that this is happening at a point where the "crisis in uganda" is actually fading, and communities are actually currently rebuilding; I think all this publicity is likely to make conflict worse.

Also, I'm in no way endorsing any kind of crazy conspiracy theory; but it is a fact that Uganda have untapped natural resources.
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Old 03-09-2012, 11:21 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I'm glad to see a thread on this, as it's a movement I'm becoming quite passionate about. I've read probably over a hundred articles in the time since the video was posted, both in criticism and defense of Invisible Children. I always read things critically (and I've been encouraging everyone I've had conversations with to do the same), and when looking at both sides of the arguments at hand I've come to the conclusion that it's something I personally want to get behind. Absolutely, 100%.

As the author said in one article I read earlier today, whenever there's something that goes viral like this and something that a large percentage of the population eagerly gets behind, there will always be an equally large amount of people just waiting to shit all over it. No matter who is right in any given case, there will always be people waiting for their chance to burst someones proverbial bubble.

I waited to donate money until after I had done research about the finances of Invisible Children and despite the criticism against them I felt that they are using their funds in much the same way that I would. I'm a poor college student, and I'm not about to give my money away to anything I find to be remotely sketchy.

I feel like a lot of people are getting caught up in aspects of the video that are not necessarily relating to the bigger picture. Much of the criticism toward IC relates to the fact that the war is not in Uganda, but I felt that the video made that pretty clear... the point was not to raise awareness about a war in Uganda, it's about keeping people interested in Kony and the LRA so that the efforts made so far in regards to Kony's arrest are not revoked or withdrawn. The military advisers from the US that are currently in Central Africa will be pulled out if the issue does not remain a prominent thing to both the powers at be and, consequently, to the public. IC has been trying to get the US government to commission military aid for nearly a decade now, if the window closes and Kony is not arrested this year than a lot of their efforts will have gone to waste.

I think the video was great in that it reminds the general public that there are important things to care about, and no matter how hokey or overly-sentimental it may be, I think it's reminding young people that they have a voice and that they should use it. That being said, I certainly have my own criticisms of the movement and my own list of annoyances in regards to IC and the video itself, but in my opinion it's more important to have this incredible spark of interest in activism, whether it's used in regards to the Kony 2012 campaign or elsewhere.

I would love to talk more to people who are interested or curious about this, either publicly or through PM.
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