Kony 2012

A worthy cause in itself, God knows, and also a video worth watching by anyone interested in the power of online activism. The sooner this monster is hunted down, the better. NYT has more on Invisible Children Inc. here. For inevitable criticism, which misses the point in my view, click here.

Kudos to local heroes Jim McGovern and John Kerry, featured in the video.



14 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Please Clarify

    Please clarify why you think the criticisms miss the point? I spoke about this issue with some friends of mine who work in development in the area and they have been the most outraged. They cannot for the life of them understand why advocating even more military intervention to kill one individual whose power has mostly waned and is already being hunted is a better use of resources than aiding the victims and citizens of the areas affected.

    Please explain this with more than just a brush off, it sounded like a pretty valid criticism to me.

    • Agreed

      Especially when this intervention would likely go through the Ugandan military, which is a horrible human rights violator itself (just read any state department report, amnesty international report, or HRC report on the topic).

      • Because criminals should be put in jail

        The basic criticism is: there are other issues more worthy of attention. That may be. Let’s take it as true, for discussion. Nonetheless, the best should not be the enemy of the good: just because there are other causes does not detract from the value of bringing Kony to trial. By all means, aid “the victims and citizens of the areas affected” as well as supporting this worthy campaign. Moreover, this campaign is likely to stimulate greater activism on other related issues, so it has that indirect benefit as well.

        • Um.

          Did you bother to read the above comments before posting yours? “There are other issues more worthy of attention” is not an argument that appears there, or in any of the arguments I’ve read over the past week or so. There are in fact about half a dozen very good arguments urging skepticism about Invisible Children, but since it seems you’ve already read, misunderstood and dismissed those, I’m left with this: While they avoid saying so explicitly, it’s clear that Invisible Children is calling for a military solution to the LRA – i.e. killing Kony, not bringing him to justice. The US military seems to see it the same way. It is deeply embarrassing to me to see a progressive, whose writing I read regularly, succumb to this kind of blood lust – however slickly produced and well-marketed it is.

          • Good Lord

            Patrick wrote “aiding the victims and citizens of the areas affected” in his comment, which is why not only did I read it, I actually quoted it. That is an example of a project that is not directly about bringing Kony himself to justice, but is also worthwhile. My position is that the latter does not exclude the former. So much for your first point.

            This is what Invisible Children advocates WRT Kony on its website:

            We are advocating for the arrest of Joseph Kony so that he can be tried by the International Criminal Court (ICC) as a precedent for future war criminals. The goal of KONY 2012 is for the world to unite to see Kony arrested and prosecuted for his crimes against humanity.

            So much for your second point. No need for embarrassment.

            • Sorry, excellent refutation. Boy, am I embarrassed.

              Very good point – where I said “read” above, please substitute “comprehend.” Patrick’s point seems to be not that pursuing Kony is a less good use of resources and effort than directing aid to his victims, but that it is actually bad and detrimental. Sort of like (I’m assuming you’ll agree with me here) how toppling Saddam was not a less good project for the US military to undergo, but actually a bad one that was detrimental to our standing in Afghanistan, the middle east and the world.

              As to your second refutation, fair enough. I concede that IC prefers to refer to “arresting” Kony, disregarding that the mission of the Ugandan army and the US soldiers sent to aid them via AFRICOM is “capture or kill,” with all apparent emphasis resting on the second option. Not an outcome I’m necessarily opposed to, but realize that this is not the first time it’s been tried. And as a better observer of this than me has noted:

              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.

              More simply put, the difficulty with getting justice for his victims and punishment for his followers is that in many cases, his followers ARE his victims. This is a point scarcely mentioned in the article you originally linked to as “inevitable criticism,” which is one of the poorer such articles I’ve read.

              • Yes that's it

                I do indeed agree. The issue I have heard from the people who work in the area is that the Ugandan military is as much a threat to peace and stability as any of the warlords, and committed horrible horrible atrocities themselves. Any sort of militarization in the region has a destabilizing effect. The invisible children team has worked closely with the Ugandan military even posing in pictures with guns and rocket launchers. They are unabashed in their financial support of the Ugandan military.

                The point of the criticisms isn’t that there isn’t a legitimate human rights crisis that did occur, but there is no “active war” in Northern Uganda right now. Kony’s army is non-existent and a careful ceasefire between warlords exists. Giving money, arms, and moral licence to a new offensive by any of the combatants and stamping the US flag on it, is just not helpful to anyone.

                I think the argument the poster was responding to was the criticism of a brilliant marketing campaign that is intent on doing good. He probably sees us as nit-picking and I agree there. We should not dismiss “slackitivism” outright. I think viral campaigns can be meaningful and I thank the Kony folks for bringing that tactic to our attention. But this video is dishonest, dangerous, and all together offensive. The LAST thing Northern Uganda, Southern Sudan, and all the other countries we would have to invade to catch this guy needs is US military intervention.

                You write lets not make the good the enemy of the best…I agree, but lets not make good intentions the servant of bad actions either.

                • Well, I don't think I'm going to say it better than that.

                  So on that note, I’m going to slowly back away from this conversation. But first: if anyone has actually read this far down, and you want to do something actually useful for Northern Uganda and the areas that have been terrorized in the past by Kony, skip Invisible Children and take a look at AMREF instead. Bob_Neer will be disappointed to learn that they don’t have cool “awareness” bracelets for sale, and hardly any famous musicians have retweeted them, but they are working to bring basic medical services and training to Northern Ugandans and dozens of other troubled and underserved populations.

  2. I think this organization has gone about this the wrong way

    Kony is already being hunted by the US using ex-LRA members now assisted by satellites, etc.

    Northern Uganda and Uganda in general gets a black eye. I think that most of the LRA area of operations now is the Congo.

    It simplifies a very complex issue.

    IC’s Charity navigator score is also below more comparable charities.

    So what happens? Lots of people get excited but not much changes, leading to less desire to get involved next time.

  3. Invisible Children is funded by anti-gay, creationist Christian right donors


    As such, I’d not take their video at face value. The anti-gay radical right lies.

  4. Laurel...

    …there’s no question that Joseph Kony is a thug. I’m impressed that a Christian Right group is taking a stand against him considering that they often do ally with African tyrants and Christian fundamentalism is part of Kony’s schtick.

    • It is another reason

      To donate elsewhere, though, given that the donations may get used in other ways…

    • IC's donors are some of the worst "kill the gays" collaborators in Africa

      There are other organizations to donate to who don’t facilitate the proposed slaughter of gays.

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