The way we treat the People
The People we Hate???????
The way we treat the People
The People we Hate???????
I couldn’t convince you that the blue you see is the same blue that I see. But maybe that’s how lovers know they’re meant to love; they see the same blue. And they both know it.
“There’s also something inherently misleading, naive, maybe even dangerous, about the idea of rescuing children or saving of Africa. It’s often not an accidental choice of words, even if it’s unwitting. It hints uncomfortably of the White Man’s Burden. Worse, sometimes it does more than hint. The savior attitude is pervasive in advocacy, and it inevitably shapes programming. Usually misconceived programming.”
- Professor Chris Blattman, Yale.
How do you go about defining positive change? Is any amount of positive change worth a greater amount of neutral/negative change? This is another, as I’m sure there are many, post (essay) about this whole Kony 2012 business. I don’t understand people. They watch a 30 minute video showing sad black children and happy blonde children to heart wrenching tunes and they all fancy themselves social activists?
I don’t doubt for a single second that Joseph Kony is an awful human being, or that supporters of Kony 2012 have anything but the best intentions. But when I asked around, not many Kony supporters have done any research into the organization Invisible Children, or what they stand for. Not that I’ve talked to anyway. That’s an issue in itself. No, my problem is not with the cause, but with supporting Invisible children itself.
This organization made 8.7 million dollars last year, only 32% of which went to loosely defined causes. The rest was spent on salaries, travel, and making the video, and promoting the video (one of the 11 that they have made) and themselves. That is a (bit) simplified, but the point is that only 32% went to direct action. That is not very much percentage-wise. That’s why Charity Navigator, a U.S.-based charity evaluator, gives Invisible Children three out of four stars overall, four stars financially, but only two stars for accountability and transparency.
The frustrating thing is that this organization is not the best of what’s out there. There are organizations doing real work that could actually have used the majority of the near-nine million dollars efficiently. In addition, this event is to.. what? Waste tonnes of paper in the middle of the night by children who aren’t allowed out past 10:30 anyways, in order to tell people who already know, about a man who is already famous? Yes, publicity for this issue is a good thing, but aid is better and I can guarantee that the people who are in a position of power that might actually be able to do something about it, already know this highly infamous war criminal. All of these 12 year olds who have never thought about Ugandan children a day in their life while they were buying the newest Ninten-box PS-DS-360 and throwing out food, have decided that they know everything that is evil in the world and that only they can stop it.
The single largest thing though, is that Invisible Children advocates financially, the use of military means to remove Kony from power. This dwarfs all of that piddily social bullshit that irritates me. Violence and war will only bring bloodshed and sadness. If this were to become a conflict, Kony has a lot more to lose. He would (and has) surround himself with children, and inevitably, many would die in the struggle. I know this is what he would do, because I know it’s what I would do. Oh no, my moral ambiguity is showing, how embarrassing. But my fears are not unfounded. The US in the form of AFRICON (U.S Africa Command) has, on multiple occasions, attempted the removal of Joseph Kony. The results were unsuccessful and tragic. The responses from Kony have been retaliative slaughter. That is the inherent issue with removing a man with a child army: Child bodyguards. Despite this, Invisible Children directly supports military intervention.
For those who don’t have the time to read the above article, here are some excerpts. “In late 2008, AFRICOM was even involved in a military push to take out the LRA once and for all. It is easy to understand why Operation Lightning Thunder, the mission aimed at capturing or killing Kony at his main base in Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, goes unmentioned.” “And, far from neutralizing the LRA, they prompted a strategically effective and ferocious response. In January and February 2009, the LRA abducted around 700 people, including an estimated 500 children, and killed almost 1,000.”
It’s easy to sit in our living-rooms all safe and cozy with our MacBooks and Snuggies furiously advocating war for these children without voices, but a man like Kony is not going to go quietly. I have no problem if he were to be arrested and rot in jail, nor do I have an issue with sending in a single sniper to take him out. Those are relatively non-intrusive means of his removal, but sending 100 “military-advisors” into Uganda is a terrible thing. The last few times the United States sent that many military advisors somewhere was Kuwait, Iran, and Vietnam. Those were not proud moments in history for mankind.
The issue is, that all these people fanatically promoting “KONY 2012” haven’t bothered to research the nuances of what they are promoting, and as a result, the people that could actually do something about this may get either the wrong opinion, or ignore the organizations that actually have the right idea. When I suggested a different organization to sponsor, that would use the money more efficiently, an unnamed supporter responded with, “Why would I give to THEM, I’ve never even heard of them before.” Words cannot express my concern at that sort of social naivety. Until yesterday, no one had heard of Invisible Children either.
Let me reiterate, this is a VALID issue that I RESPECT and appreciate the gravity of. Awareness is excellent. No argument there, but this is a highly complex socio-economic situation, not a one dimensional puzzle. If people actually want what’s best for the children, organizations focussed on re-education and treatment both physical and psychological of the children who are rescued from these situations, is a much better use of money. Not buying bracelets, not changing your profile picture on Tumblbook or YouSpace, and not wasting poster paper. As put by Sarah and Kate, “Yeah, this may seem like an absurdly academic point to raise when talking about a problem that is clearly crying out for pragmatic solutions, but, uh, the way we define problems is important. […] 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.” As mentioned in the comments of that post, there are likely Ugandans with doctorates and degrees working towards what they feel is the best solution for THEIR COUNTRY.
It is not to say that I don’t respect what Invisible Children has done either, it’s a brilliant use of social media. Guilt people into caring about a heart-wrenching cause that they can’t see and that is far far away, both keeping them feeling safe, and making them want to help in any way they can, THEN turning it into a social phenomenon that, if you’re not a part of, you clearly hate children in Uganda therefore no one can argue against you or refute any of your claims otherwise they face the wrath of being eaten alive by the fanatical supporters and looking like a raving asshole. Clearly I have no issues looking like a raving asshole.
This is the response from Invisible Children. PLEASE READ IT! This is important information that they have chosen to be more transparent about, and by all means take it all in. Just remember that it is coming from a biased source, as is this post.
TL;DR/My final comment on this issue is this: If you support Kony 2012 and all that it represents because you feel it’s the best solution to the best of your knowledge and research, then all the power to you. The problem is that the vast majority of “KONY 2012” supporters haven’t done their own research. So if any of this article is news to you, I would recommend doing your own research beyond watching a clearly biased and guilt-mongering video, and developing your own opinion of the situation, the event, and what you can do to help.
“If you want to write to your Member of Parliament or your Senator or the President or the Prime Minister, by all means, go ahead. If you want to post about Joseph Kony’s crimes on Facebook, go ahead. But let’s keep it about Joseph Kony, not KONY 2012.” - Grant Oyston; a sociology and political science student at Acadia University in Nova Scotia, Canada.
For those that wish to support a different organization, here are just a few that may be worth looking at (in no particular order):
Exhaustively researched and written by: Quinn Candler; a student at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta.