Defending the Kony 2012 Campaign

By: Kasvi Malik | Mar 09, 2012 | 646 Views Opinion |

A couple of days ago, one of my friend­­­s posted a video on Facebook called “Kony 2012.” Out of sheer boredom, and having noted the fact that quite a few people had already “liked” it, I clicked on it to see what all the fuss was about.

The next 30 minutes changed my life.

Kony 2012, as Invisible Children describes it, is a campaign “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 the leader of the guerrilla group Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Uganda, which has, abducted thousands of children over the last twenty-six years, ripping them away from their parents at young ages. These children are forced to become sex slaves, child soldiers, or murderers, often forced to kill their own parents. As Jason Russell, the director of the video, shows us, children all over the country are living in constant terror of the rebels, always looking over their shoulders, not knowing if they’ll live to see the next sunrise. Kony’s abominations put him at number one on the International Criminal Court’s list of most wanted people, and yet, ninety-nine percent of the world does not know his name.

Quite honestly, this video left me speechless. The only word I could formulate was “wow”; the only feeling I felt was astonishment. Astonishment at being a global citizen in the twenty-first century, and reading about a man pillaging across a country, raping and murdering people, recruiting innocent children to do the same. Astonishment that I live in the “social media era” where I hear which celebrity is eating at which restaurant at what time, but never hear about a man like Joseph Kony. Astonishment, complete and utter astonishment at our shameful ignorance of such vicious, cruel, inhumanity.

As any significant social issue must, the Kony 2012 campaign has received a lot of criticism from skeptics who say the video is factually inaccurate. For instance, the video claims that the LRA has 30,000 children, whereas this figure is the total number of children the LRA has abducted over he span of twenty-six years, and the size of the group has now dropped to only a few hundred. It was also discovered that after failed peace talks with the Ugandan military in 2006, the LRA was pushed out of Uganda entirely, and Kony himself is now believed to be in the Central African Republic. Some say the video comes across as more of a business deal, exploiting people’s vulnerability to such social issues to encourage them to purchase their merchandise.

The Kony Poster, available for download off the Invisible Children website

My answer to them is: so what? It was certainly unethical on Invisible Children’s part to withhold vital information like the group’s current size and Kony’s present whereabouts. As for the bit about the video seeming like a business deal—think about it, how else can the organization hope to get funding in order to continue to spread awareness about Kony? So what if it is exploiting people’s need to help the world by making their own little contribution by selling t-shirts? That doesn’t change the cause they are working for. My question to the skeptics is: do these details really change anything? Do they, in any way, actually alter the cruelty of Kony’s crimes? Should he be allowed to walk freely just because he’s not operating in Uganda anymore? Or are his crimes exonerated because the number of child soldiers is only a few hundred people rather than the thousands we were led to believe? To all those poking fun at the rest of us trying to spread the word about Kony: No, watching a thirty-minute video might not make us social activists, but sitting back and mocking those who are trying to help makes you apathetic.

We have all witnessed crimes of hate and violence, be it the 9/11 attacks in New York or the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai. Sitting on our couches, glued to the TV, we have all experienced the despair and frustration that comes with the realization that we can do little but look on and hope too many of our own don’t die. The Kony 2012 campaign finally gives us the opportunity to prevent such savage atrocities, such heinous violations of basic human rights—rights that every single person deserves, be it an American, and Indian or and African.

By making Kony famous, Invisible Children hopes to make him a less elusive figure, one that is easier to capture. Under pressure from the growing support of the campaign, the US government has deployed ten advisors to Uganda to help arrest Kony, but if the government notices a decrease in support of the cause, they will recall these advisors. But if we each donate just a couple of dollars a month to TRI, the organization that is helping fund the campaign, we can make a world of a difference. You can also show your support by signing the petition on the Kony 2012 website.

So wake up, CMC. Spread the word. Make Joseph Kony a household name. Donate a few dollars to TRI; buy the bracelets, put up the posters, wear the T-shirts. Use your Facebook status to share the video instead of a meme. Use those 140 Twitter characters to spread awareness, not ignorance. Despite what the cynics say, Kony does have to be stopped, because for once, the common man has been given the power to help stop an international criminal. Here at CMC, we are encouraged to be leaders, to take the initiative, to make a difference. Why? Because we are the next generation and we are responsible for what this world becomes.

So wake up. Spread the word

About the Author

Kasvi Malik is a sophomore from India and an EEP major. When she's not out on the golf course kicking some butt with the Athenas, she's in one of the dining halls adding hot sauce to everything on her plate.

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  • bob
  • Alex

    The problem with donating money to an organization without understanding the situation on the ground is that even organizations with good intentions (stopping an undisputably evil man like Joseph Kony) can be harmful. I am admittedly no expert on Uganda’s politics, but I have done a fair amount of research into the situation in the past week – it’s a great way to avoid homework – and think that there is more information people should consider before deciding whether or not to donate to Invisible Children.
     As you noted, Joseph Kony has not been in Uganda in nearly six years. As this Telegraph article (http://tgr.ph/xE0lCP) points out, many Ugandans are just now seeing their lives return to relative normalcy. Putting more pressure on troops to find Joseph Kony might force him out of hiding and onto the offensive which could create worse conditions in Uganda than there are today. Moreover, IC fails to engage the larger Ugandan community, and focuses instead on gaining the support of US celebrities. This is dis-empowering and smacks of colonial savior complex – the fact that the Kony 2012 video focuses around an American boy rather than Ugandans who experienced Kony firsthand is part of this problem. A good critique of this element of IC can be found here: http://innovateafrica.tumblr.com/post/18897981642/you-dont-have-my-voteIf these critiques don’t change your opinion on donating to IC, more power to you! But I think this is an excellent example of how the ends do not always justify the means, especially when dealing with foreign countries. Kony is a reprehensible monster, and in an ideal world would be made to pay for his crimes… but this isn’t an ideal world, and spending money to make Kony “famous” takes money away from organizations solving other problems which are more relevant to Ugandans’ day-to-day lives… and that is the “so what?” you’re looking for. 

  • Alexc4228

    The point is this is not just about kony or any one subject, finally a charity/organisation has come out and targeted a specific set of people (the people of tomorrow) to stand up and make a difference. The old system does not work the pyramid of power is wrong and I’m surprised no one has ever decide to say it before our “democracy” that we live in is backward we are all to think we have a say and make a difference but we actually have little or no impact on how our world works what this whole thing will prove is that we will have power, we will not be dictated to and we will have our way! We will make our government do something not for oil not for power just purely because it’s right! The rest will fall to place after. There are parts of the world still living a poor disgraceful life while we all sit in the west having a great time our little problems mean nothing in comparison it’s time we decided to fight and not just give money and hope it makes a difference that is why cover the night is such a good idea it challenges people to make a difference if we can make it work we will change the world the people in power across the world will realise they need us after election day not just to come to power. And if they do not keep us happy we will revolt and we will make them keep us happy so stop arguing and thinking “oh what are they doing with the money” or “well if I do something it won’t make a difference” it will so let get off our lazy asses and do something oh and with regards to the money and things invisible children left out so what you try and run something without cutting some money off you can’t expect a charity to do everything for free it was something like only 33% went to Uganda etc well you have to have workers and you have to get Guest speakers to promote your cause and advertising you get nothing for nothing in this world so the nay sayers need to mussle themselves and let things happen if you don’t want to get involved and help you just sit there but when your children ask or your children’s children ask where you were when we Change the world you tell them you sat back and threw back a bevy and had a pizza while we turned the power on its head. We will change this world it will work for us we will all be equal you will listen and you can all watch on April 20th when we make our movement and we show the world what we can do if we all get together and chip in we will heal the world, one wound at a time

  • http://twitter.com/DoomAndGlory Doom & Glory

    We believe Kony must be stopped,and we’re not afraid to wear it:
    http://bit.ly/yJYGHG 

  • Rockntyler
  • Charithadamisetti

    wat can v do my making him…famous in india?