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The KONY 2012 Fad

March 11, 2012

Peacemongers

Over the last week or so, the internet has been lit up by this KONY 2012 campaign. In case you’ve managed to miss it, a group called Invisible Children has made a promotional video calling for the capture of a man called Joseph Kony in Uganda, largely for his abduction and brainwashing of child soldiers.

Now, while the prevention of child soldiers is a hard thing to argue against, there are plenty of reasons why this particular method is not the way to go. I’m a bit late to the party here, and in the week I have been intending to post this, a bunch of other articles have sprung up, so rather than go into a tirade of unnecessary repetition, I will just point you in the direction of a couple of other websites which can present some of the arguments against this latest fad. 

http://rtnt.tumblr.com/post/18958345172/rtnt-on-the-problems-with-kony-2012-the-deluge-of

http://visiblechildren.tumblr.com/

http://keepittrill.com/online/2012/03/kony-2012-scam-stop-supporting-invisible-children/

http://allafrica.com/stories/201203110356.html

http://www.theatlanticwire.com/global/2012/03/problem-stop-kony/49634/

However, some of the more salient points are:

1. While removing tyrants from the world, or at least from power, is an admirable goal, there is no reason to send funds to an organisation which by all accounts seems to be largely discredited in terms of doing any actual good and rather spends its money on nice houses and making its owners look cool. These guys may have started off with good intentions, but those seem to have given way to an extremely viable source of income for themselves. They now list themselves as Film Makers.

About 32% of the funds generated seem to go to actually helping Uganda, the rest of the money is spent on making flashier videos, travelling around the world, and buying pretty things. Awareness is good, but it is achieved now. And skewed awareness can do more harm than good. For example:

2. Kony is not even particularly relevant these days. He was a big deal years ago, but these days lives in relative obscurity. Some argue that making him a big deal again might make him out to be bigger than he actually is, and lend him more power in terms of terror.

3. Surprisingly, sending in Americans to open fire is not the only way for the countries of the world to solve their problems. In fact, America sticking its oar into spots of the world where it is not welcome, due to the uninformed “wishes” of its people, is the cause of many of them. Sometimes, a country understands its own ways more than the average gung-ho American.

4. On top of that, the Ugandan government, which is the group we are supposed to be helping, has some dubious issues of their own. And perhaps loading them up with guns to hunt down the army of children may not be the best long-term solution.

5. There is no time limit on capturing bad people. This “expires on 31 December 2012” thing is a basic marketing ploy to create a sense of urgency in the consumer, to spend Now. If Kony is not caught this year, do we just give up? If he is caught this year, is our job done? There are plenty more bad people in the world, and there is plenty more involved in this conflict, than just the capture of one man.

By all means, if there is an issue somewhere in the world, which you feel should be addressed, then write to the government about it and try to get something done. But do it once you are informed of the facts surrounding the situation, not just as a knee-jerk reaction to some popular emotional blackmail. The fight to make the world a better place is one worth fighting, but it should never be confined to a simple trend.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. catlady permalink
    March 12, 2012 4:29 am

    yes I agree with practically all of this- there is so much conflicting ‘ evidence ‘ about Kony on the internet now , it is quite difficult to establish what is truth and what is myth.
    The thing I particularly dont like , is the deliberate attempt to whip up a sort of mass hysteria , creating lots of people who can do a token thing [which will give them the ‘feel good factor ” and a worthwhile cause [exploited children ] to support , through what I think seems to be pretty dubious channels.
    I acknowledge all international fundraising occurs hefty admin costs , but think here there seems to be the risk that the admin costs and revenue are the purpose for the marketing , rather than the welfare of victims. I dont like the video makers little boy being exploited as a marketing tool either…
    It seems fairly likely that Kony himself is a spent force , while his evil practices continue albeit in a reduced capacity ., these people should definately be brought to account , but I think this marketing campaign is running the risk of turning into a kangaroo court , and for me personally , I prefer to support international child welfare organisations that have ,reputations for doing good works , established over time.

  2. March 12, 2012 11:12 am

    It’s done a hell of a great job in making it known.

    I think, in general, the mentality that drives the whole campaign–the one assuming that a demand of a large group of people to the U.S. government entitles itself with some sort of legitimacy to intervene in another country–is silly and scary. Obviously, the International Criminal Court acknowledges the urgency of the Uganda issue. But as it has been in the past, brining an indicted fugitive before the court is not a simple matter since the ICC does not have any authority to arrest them. With Kony standing beyond the Ugandan jurisdiction and the ICC holding a limited jurisdiction, deploying U.S. troops is not the only way to go.

    This naive mentality also undermines the point of international intervention in a sense that we can’t keep getting all worked up and intervene every time we realize someone has done something horrendous for the past decades…

  3. March 15, 2012 8:14 pm

    I agree with both of you. In one sense, the movie purports to have exposure as its purpose. In that sense, it has succeeded. However, the larger goals, which depend on how sceptical you are or probably either a) the intervention of Team America to weed out the bad guy, or b) getting the makers rich, are both pretty short-sighted, simplistic, and possibly wrong.

    At any rate, the backlash seems to be starting, so I guess it will be interesting to see what happens from here.

  4. catlady permalink
    March 24, 2012 2:33 am

    the invisible children video maker has had a meltdown and is receiving psychiatric care [ thats sad }

  5. March 24, 2012 6:26 pm

    Yeah, I saw that. The guy has completely lost his mind by the looks of it. Will be interesting to see what happens when he gets out of care.

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