Kony 2012: Empowering Or Overhyped? CON

Kelsi Lerner, Staff Writer

On March 5, the non-profit organization Invisible Children launched a 30-minute video-ad encouraging global citizens to make African warlord Joseph Kony famous, and bring him to justice. After millions of views and countless mentions on Facebook, the Kony 2012 campaign saw its first threads of controversy. As several facts came to light, the critics and supporters of Kony 2012 campaign were equally divided.

Let me preface this argument by saying that if any of you invite me to the “Cover the Night” event or any variation of it one more time I swear to God I will unfriend each and every one of you on Facebook… okay, that’s not true, because then I wouldn’t have any friends.

I have several problems with Invisible Children, all of which tie back to the organization being a huge phony. Now, I’m not trying to release my inner Holden Caulfield on you, but let’s get real for a second: out of the blue, an organization releases a beautifully edited piece of propaganda about a cause that seems suspiciously dated, and suddenly a bunch of sheltered white kids are interested in African politics and are showing their support by buying bracelets…. bracelets.

Despite what Invisible Children might have you believe, Joseph Kony and his child soldiers aren’t a new thing. The height of Kony’s career in terrorism was in the late 80s and early 90s in Uganda. Currently, Kony isn’t even in Uganda. In fact, Kony recently had to flee the Democratic Republic of Congo to the neighbouring Central African Republic, and according to New Vision (Uganda’s leading daily news source), Kony isn’t even a threat anymore. At this point, his modest goals include staying alive. Sure, in 2005 the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant, but this is the ICC. They’re known for being a bit delayed.

It’s not that Kony isn’t a bad guy― he did imprison children and force them to fight for him, after all― it’s just that there are a lot of other issues that are of far greater importance at this point in time. If you really want to focus on issues in Africa, why not the over 9 million refugees and internally displaced people from conflicts and civil wars?

Still, even if Invisible Children’s cause were something more relevant, the organization doesn’t actually do anything. Invisible Children Director of Ideology Jedidiah Jenkins is quoted as saying, “The truth about Invisible Children is that we are not an aid organization, and we don’t intend to be. I think people think we’re over there delivering shoes or food. But we are an advocacy and awareness organization.”

Organizations whose goal is “spreading awareness” should always be looked upon with a critical eye, and Invisible Children is no exception.

Viral propaganda like the Kony 2012 video is a great way to spread a message—it’s just that in this case, the message is to donate money to an organization so they can make more videos. Posting the video on your Facebook wall doesn’t actually do anything, nor does “liking” someone’s status about it. The whole business with Kony and the LRA was horribly tragic and something that we should definitely be aware of so history doesn’t repeat, but posting about it on Facebook doesn’t bring someone’s family back together.

Invisible Children as an organization supports sending military aid to Uganda. The Kony 2012 campaign donates money to the ever controversial Ugandan military (despite Kony still not being in Uganda), and many American supporters are for sending US troops as well. This is actually pretty ironic, considering that (despite what the bi-partisan logo will have you believe) generally those in support of the Kony 2012 campaign are very young and very liberal. These people openly criticize our wars in the Middle East, but then turn around and demand we send U.S. troops to Uganda for a cause to which the United States has no ties.

So, while it’s great that teenagers are getting excited about African politics (despite the fact that most of them are only vaguely aware of politics in their own country), they seem to be a bit misinformed. The Kony 2012 video is an ad, and its product is hope. The video shows the horrors that these people went through and uses your basic sense of human decency to get you to spend money. The problem is that people rarely look into causes like this to evaluate their legitimacy, and now we have a bunch of ignorant teenagers spreading the video along like wildfire thinking they’re making a difference. Well calm down, sheeple, because you’re not.

Interested in the counterargument? Check out staffer Maya Sherne’s: https://www.mhsmirador.com/opinion/2012/04/20/kony-2012-empowering-or-overhyped-pro/