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In Regards to KONY 2012: Alternative Perspectives

By Posted on 9 5 m read

No, I won’t bombard you with information about this awful situation.  If you’ve watched the viral-famed video as of yesterday (with nearly 2 million views in 2 days,) you should know a bit about the situation already.  But how much do you know about its entirety?  The problem with documentaries and campaign videos/ads is that they’re meant to target specifics, and most choose  to leave all of the facts out for their own sake. Before this video,  how much information have you read about Uganda and the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army)?  Very little?  Well, Live Civil is here to keep a healthy balance.

For years, there has been an influx in critics of the many Invisible Children campaigns that have hit the ground.  And with great cause.  We’re not here to tell you not to support them, but to play Devil’s Advocate.  Great cinematography mixed with horrific images makes for a pretty hefty stab on the heart, but if my radical liberal college taught me nothing more, it’s to present both arguments when presenting a case– so here it is:

KONY 2012 Youtube video isn’t completely off.  As the Huffington Post presents it, Kony was indicted by the International Criminal Court for his offenses, including abducted children, rape and women as sex slaves.  Accused of murdering thousands, they’re classified as a global terrorist threat.  The Invisible Children campaign presents this to their audience through an emotional rollercoaster of 30 minutes following a former child soldier named Jacob.

The issue does not lie in the effort, but the called solution. Alternative voices, from Political and Economical Professor Chris Battman to Visible Children and Wronging Rights, have vocally expressed their concern about the tactics of Invisible Children.  One has even claimed that Kony hasn’t been in power since 2006.  But either way, the most important topic to them is that this issue is addressed… properly.  Invisible Children is not only asking for people to be active with the cause, but also supportive of their solution– a solution that puts the very people they claim to be advocating for at risk, and the very ones they’re hoping to push out of power into more powerful hands.

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.

The group is in favour of direct military intervention, and their money supports 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. These books each refer to the rape and sexual assault that are perennial issues with the UPDF, the military group Invisible Children is defending. — Visible Children

Foreign Affairs have also called out this organization (amongst others), describing the complexity that comes with the situation at hand, which is often not expressed:

In their campaigns, such organizations have manipulated 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. They rarely refer to the Ugandan atrocities or those of Sudan’s People’s Liberation Army, such as attacks against civilians or looting of civilian homes and businesses, or the complicated regional politics fueling the conflict. — Foreign Affairs

The Invisible Children campaign is belonging to three young filmmakers.   To many critics, they lack the pragmatic tools to provide authentic solutions.  But it’s obvious that their cause is important and heart-wrenching in conversation with the overwhelming response… their hearts are in the right place.  Even so, issues are evident.  As Wronging Rights blatantly opposed it:

…Their work is (a) kind of obsessed with glorifying the filmmakers, (b) based on a creepy, White Man’s Burden-y savior complex, and (c) taking up resources that could be occupied by “intelligent advocacy.”

Choosing to simplistically define Congolese women as “The Raped” and Ugandan children as “The Abducted” constrains our ability to think creatively about the problems they face, and work with them to combat these problems. — Wronging Rights

The Invisible Children briefly describe their video in these words:

“KONY 2012 is a film and campaign by Invisible Children that aims to make Joseph Kony famous, not to celebrate him, but to raise support for his arrest and set a precedent for international justice.”

That seems pretty straight-forward to me.

This is not to discourage anyone from their feelings about Kony, but to provide all with a clear look into the reality of the situation.  Many of Uganda’s spiritual and religious leaders oppose any U.S. or otherwise intervention.  This issue is belonging to a large population of living and breathing human beings who are belonging to different lifestlyes, homes, and occupations.  This should not be considered a simple plot for a rescue-mission as so much of the world today is adamant about helping and supporting a cause, instead of providing and equipping the needy with the material and funds to do it for themselves as they see fit.

Critics believe a militia approach to the problem is detrimental to all societies involved.  Before you completely campaign for our government to do something about a situation, you should explore it on your own terms and learn the contributing factors.  Help is only considered “helping” if the projected solution is beneficial for all.  I’m not saying to ignore Kony in 2012, but if you’re going to rally around the cause, do so well-informed and in the eyes of realism.

Watch the video in full below and feel free to leave your own opinion in the comments for a healthy debate!  What do you think should be done to further this cause?  Do you agree with the militia approach?

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