CLEMSON, SC, March 7, 2012 — The KONY 2012 documentary has become an Internet sensation. Less than two days after its initial release, the video on YouTube and Vimeo had garnered almost 20 Million views. Most viewers have been referred from Facebook and are between 13 and 24 years of age.
The KONY 2012 documentary was created by Invisible Children and ”aims to make Joseph Kony famous, not to celebrate him, but to raise support for his arrest and set a precedent for international justice.”
Joseph Kony is a very evil man. Kony is Ugandan warlord who kidnaps children and uses them as child soldiers and sex slaves for his militia: the LRA. A radically perverted and delusional terrorist, Kony has claimed to get orders and authority from divine powers. Many of his followers and enemies believe he has been possessed by powerful spirits, which dictate orders through him.
Instigating a cult in the form of an army of child soldiers, Joseph Kony is responsible for numerous war crimes and crimes against humanity. He is among the International Criminal Court’s most wanted.
The documentary calls for a massive event on April 20th called “Cover the Night,” culminating in the form of hundreds of thousands of supporters placing posters and stickers in every city across America. These materials seek to make the name of Joseph Kony famous and eventually bring him to justice via awareness.
Instantly, “Cover the Night” events on Facebook were started and grew to many hundreds of members who each committed to take part in this effort on the night of April 20th.
The video states that when Kony is a household name, the US Government will have to keep American soldiers in Central Africa, on their mission to find Kony.
“In order for Kony to be arrested this year, the Ugandan military has to find him. In order for them to find him, they need the technology and training to find him in the vast jungle. That’s where the American advisors come in. But in order for the American advisors to be there, the US government has to deploy them. They’ve done that, but if the government doesn’t believe that the people care about arresting Kony, the mission will be canceled. In order for people to care, they have to know, and they will only know if Kony’s name is everywhere.”
Dissenting voices raise objections. As this video has spread, many people have begun questioning some of the basic premises of the film. Many think that the documentary does a great job of emotionalizing the situation and connecting with people, but the aims and goals of the Invisible Children organization are skewed. Their points are summarized below.
Don’t make KONY famous. Invisible Children shouldn’t aim to make Kony famous, but infamous. Many claim that the campaign is actually making him famous. The KONY 2012 awareness banners look like campaign signs used in political elections, giving credibility of Kony where none should be due. The signs just say “KONY 2012” and not “Justice for Kony 2012” or anything that would indicate the negativity surrounding Kony. Many express that their first impression of the sign was that it was actually campaigning for him.
Awareness is not the solution. Awareness is the key goal in the KONY 2012 campaign, and making Kony infamous may do nothing to actually stop the problem. Critics claim that awareness alone has never solved anything. Everyone has known about breast cancer for years, yet awareness has done very little or nothing to find the cure. Donations made to non-profits that champion awareness generally finance awareness of the problem rather solutions to the problem. The Invisible Children organization isn’t attacking the root of the problem by creating awareness.
Kony won’t stop simply because more people know about him. In fact, some think that this makes him more powerful, like Gadhafi or Hussein. Saddam Hussein was a household name, famous for brutally slaughtering between 50,000 and 150,000 of his own people. Everyone knew that Hussein used biological and chemical weapons against the Iraqi Kurdish people. Mass Genocide in Iraq didn’t warrant a US response for nearly two decades, until 2003. Even then, the war wasn’t cast in a positive light for giving freedom to more than 30 Million Kurds in Iraq.
Another example of this is with the humanitarian crisis known as the Darfur Genocide. During this period the Janjaweed, a militia group, killed and raped hundreds of thousands of people in Sudan. A huge amount of American students increased awareness through demonstrations and political activity. The widespread crisis gathered the attention of the entire world and multiple UN resolutions were drafted about it, only to be stalled. Nothing was done to stop the fighting and save the Sudanese people in time, and not because there wasn’t enough awareness about the crisis.
Public opinion for using the US military for humanitarian aid doesn’t always work. People knew about Hussein’s atrocities for years, yet that didn’t help in solving the problem.
Will only 100 American soldiers really be able to find Kony? The documentary seems to indicate that if we leave the American soldiers in Central Africa long enough, Kony will be found sometime this year. Considering the ten years it required International and US Militaries to find Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan and Pakistan, this seems highly unlikely.
Indeed, the US military has been instrumental in trying to hunt down Kony for years now. According to Foreign Affairs, U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) has been on several missions to kill or capture Kony. Each mission was a failure for several reasons.
The Ugandan military is indeed inept. US military planning and assistance doesn’t appear to solve the problem of the Ugandan military, either. After watching KONY 2012, people don’t take into account that the Ugandan military, which Invisible Children is supporting, like Kony, is committing atrocities such as rape and looting, on a consistent basis. Furthermore, it is reported that Kony hasn’t been active In Uganda since 2006. If this is true, why is Invisible Children still supporting the Ugandan military?
What does the Invisible Children organization do with donations? Invisible Children has generated revenues of $29,863,723 during the past three years (2009-2011). Not to mention the amount generated this year, Invisible Children has had a significant amount of support. The accusation is that this money is not being spent wisely.
In the past year, with revenues of almost $9 million, only 37% ($3,303,228) went to direct services or central African programs, while almost 47% ($4,146,833) was spent on advertising, awareness and fundraising efforts. The rest of the budget is spent on management and general expenses.
Even those direct services provided appear to include nothing that actually relates to solving the problem for the future (except possibly a vaguely worded entry for “Congo.”) The money is mostly spent on scholarship and educational programs as well as livelihood programs for African people, with a strong focus on women. While these may be worthwhile programs that help to restore Kony’s victims, they do absolutely nothing to stop Kony.
One woman asks, “They made $13 Million last year, and yet they haven’t considered hiring a small private security force to go and wipe Kony out?” The use of private security forces could get messy. However, any military force against Kony will be messy. Using children as his bodyguards, Kony uses child soldiers to fight for him. Why doesn’t any of Invisible Children’s fiscal budget go toward military training and resources instead of awareness t-shirts and bracelets? With all of the programs Invisible Children supports, why not a more direct approach to Kony’s extraction?
Questions abound. In the emotionally gripping documentary, the filmmaker asks his young son, “What do I do for a job?” The son responds, “You stop the bad guys from being mean.” With so much evidence stacked against them, is that really what he and the rest of Invisible Children are doing? Questions like these remain unanswered.
Invisible Children’s heart is in the right place, but is their head?
Watch KONY 2012 for yourself here:
Kony 2012 aims to bring a war criminal to justice (Video)The purpose of Kony 2012 is to make Joseph Kony so famous he is infamous.
John Paul Cassil studies Management/Entrepreneurship and Political Science at Clemson University. A former U.S. House of Representatives Page, Cassil has since worked on conservative campaigns and in Congress for Congresswoman Foxx.
Cassil is the Managing Editor of the Tiger Town Observer, Clemson’s Conservative Journal of News and Opinion. He regularly speaks about activism at national conservative conferences.
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