On the Kony 2012 backlash.
Okay, I’ve seen a lot of stuff being posted on Facebook and Tumblr and elsewhere in which people are attacking the Kony 2012 campaign as being:
1) for the profit of Invisible Children’s organisational leaders;
2) emotional hype that will die out; and/or
3) a problematic campaign because it advocates direct military intervention.
Firstly I just want to say that I get it. I get that seeing all this take off in one night, with all your stupid Facebook friends and silly bloggers getting overly involved in a massive, idealistic, media-oriented wave against one guy could easily make anyone skeptical.
But I also want to say that I’ve read up on the criticisms. I’ve followed every link I’ve been given today, read entire Reddit threads, every Facebook-comment essay, every news article that seemed important. I’ve looked at both sides of this, because I don’t want to be drawn into something that I don’t believe in any more than anyone else does.
And I still want to be part of Kony 2012. And, to return to the three areas I’ve mentioned, here’s why:
1) Yes, Invisible Children is a dodgy organisation. Their money doesn’t go where they say it will, their CEO makes $90, 000 a year (not including assets). Yes, they focus almost entirely on targeting impressionable young people through the use of social media. Yes, there are better places your money could go.
2) Yes, it’s a hype. But emotions are important. The video is impressive because it achieves its aims. It galvanises viewers into wanting to do something. It affects people, which is why this is blowing up in a massive way. I realise that people have had some issues with the video (various facts are distorted, it overemphasises certain things), but sometimes things need to be propagandistic in order to work. I hate saying that, but it’s true. Marketing is a useful tool for campaigners and activists, and personally I think the video does an incredible job. I’m just sorry that a lot of your dumb friends are posting it without thinking, and therefore making you, the thoughtful person reading this, skeptical.
3) This is the most important point. I want to make very clear that I do not support the idea of a kill-or-capture mission to go after Joseph Kony. And this is where I differ from Kony 2012. I think their aim is decent and their reasons valid, but their method is flawed. Personally, I want to see Kony brought to trial at the International Criminal Court at the Hague, where he has been indicted for war crimes since 2005. I would like this to be carried out by UN forces (especially as Kony is no longer in Uganda, but rather somewhere in the Central African Republic, Sudan, or the Democratic Republic of Congo). And I want to see this happen with the least amount of civilian casualties possible.
I am an idealist in other ways, though. I believe that people working together can change the world. I believe in social media as a valid way of expressing activism. I believe that even bringing one man to justice is as legitimate a cause as any other. Don’t let people tell you that just because the world will always be pretty shitty, you may as well do nothing. Don’t let the failings of an organisation blind you to the small amount of good it might do. And don’t let the crowd dictate anything; if you don’t believe in Kony 2012 for whatever reason, don’t support it. If you do believe in it, and you’ve read up on it, then do.
This isn’t the first cause I’ve supported, and it won’t be the last. It’s not even the only one I’m thinking about at this very second. But you can get behind more than one thing. Supporting Kony 2012 doesn’t preclude you from supporting Amnesty International, or Médecins Sans Frontières, or the RSPB, or NOH8, or your local community centre. Everything is worthy of your time as long as you believe in it.
Read up, make informed decisions, and then change the world. Yo.#Kony2012 #Joseph Kony #Invisible Children #an embarrassingly serious post #almost no funny bits #couldn't help putting Yo at the end #god forbid I should be taken seriously right?