Teens Have Mixed Responses to Kony 2012

Monique is a sixteen year old girl living in Louisiana. She is a writer, dancer, and actress who enjoys playing video games and learning about others. Her favorite subjects are English, History, and Science; she plans to attend college and get a PhD in a related field.

 

Kony 2012, invisible children, africa, LRA, Lord’s resistance army, Uganda, charities, media backlash, Jason Russell, On March 5, 2012, an organization called Invisible Children, Inc. released a short, now well known, video and campaign, “Kony 2012,” in order to bring awareness to the injustices committed by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Uganda.

 

The LRA is headed by Joseph Kony and has been spreading terror throughout central and eastern Africa for about 30 years. Jason Russell and other members of Invisible Children started the Campaign in order for Kony’s capture by December 2012.

 

Since the release of this video it has drawn an extremely strong response from America’s younger generation. However, it has also drawn a large amount of criticism.

 

Media Backlash

 

The biggest backlash Kony 2012 has been criticized for is oversimplifying an extremely complex issue. They have made the problems that have occurred in Uganda and the other countries where the LRA is active into a very simple, black and white issue. They only seek to gather a crowd rather than educate a nation. Basically many of the people who are involved in this campaign have no idea what they’re fighting for besides the arrest of Kony. They don’t understand what the Ugandan people have gone through, what is going on currently, or anything about the LRA, other than that it’s headed by Kony.  However, instead of promoting research about this issue in order to better understand and help fight against these terrors, Invisible Children keeps the details in Kony 2012 to an exaggerated minimum for the sake of advocacy. Their entire argument is based around emotion rather than logic.

 

Many people responded to this video positively. However, others were met with questions about Invisible Children and their motives:

 

So…Where is your money going?

What I don’t think people realize about donating to this organization is that most of your money isn’t going into the hands of starving, struggling, broken Ugandan families. Invisible Children is an advocacy group. Only 31 percent of your donated money is going to help Uganda. The rest is going into salaries, advertising, and travel. This claims to raise awareness, not better Africa. Behind every Facebook status there is a young person wanting and thinking they’re doing some good for the Ugandans. But in reality, they’re buying posters to cover our cities in, not protection for Ugandans. With that being said…Why do we keep donating?

 

Invisible Children is very unclear with where there money is going. Due to their popularity they were forced to release an audit showing where their finances go. Charity Navigator gave them 2 out of 4 stars for their accountability.

 

Why Joseph Kony? Will this really help?

If you care to see things in another light, the group claims to want to bring awareness about the issues that press the African people. However, what they’re really doing in this video is trying to get people to start putting pressure on congress to the point where they can’t ignore it. Thus it will result in Congress being forced to do something about Kony and get rid of him for good. But…what will that do?

Joseph Kony is indeed NOT the worst problem that the continent of Africa is facing. There are many other issues such as Malaria, AIDS, corruption, Nodding Disease, or The anti-gay bill trying to be passed in Uganda. However, Invisible Children has drilled it into the heads of so many that the LRA is a super unique and different group committing these extremely unheard of crimes, and if we raise enough awareness they’ll stop and leave the poor children of Uganda alone…right? Wrong. Joseph Kony is part of a very large social and economic issue going on in almost every part of Africa. This can basically be described as Tribalism in both the government and groups like the LRA (yeah…there is more than one group like this). It’s something we as first world citizens will never be able to understand fully and therefore I don’t think we understand what our actions will do.

Kony is a very small part of these social issues. We may bring this man to justice, however, that doesn’t mean the terror will stop there. His followers aren’t just going to disappear. They’re going to make their way into other groups similar to the LRA and things like the Rwanda Genocide, the Congo War, ethnic cleansing (like in Darfur), and other tragedies related to these social and economic issues will occur. This cause is popular because the majority of its supports are America’s youth. The youth of any country holds great power. However, they also are extremely ignorant when it comes to this issue on a larger scale. Our youth has not learned to understand the big picture in all of this.

Kony 2012…more bad than good?

 

This entire campaign is about bringing a man to justice whose group is kidnapping children, raping young girls, and killing ruthlessly. Invisible Children’s solution to that is to empower the Ugandan military and government. The bad thing about this is that the Ugandan government isn’t exactly the most humane group either. The Ugandan army has many human rights offenses under their belt, such as the torture of what they consider criminals and innocent people, rape, murder, looting, burning entire cities, and repressing many freedoms of their people. (Sound like a certain rebel group?) So, basically, Invisible Children is aiming to give more power to a corrupt and inhumane government for the sake of stopping one of many warlords in Africa.

 

This entire campaign brings attention to problems that have been going on for years. This entire LRA ordeal has been around since 1986. If this is such an urgent cause, why is Invisible Children taking action so late? By doing this are they also drawing attention away from more important problems? By making Kony “famous” and putting more power into the hands of the Ugandan military, don’t you think that could provoke more violence?

 

“Suggesting that the answer is more military action is just wrong. Have they thought of the consequences? Making Kony ‘famous’ could make him stronger. Arguing for more US troops could make him scared, and make him abduct more children, or go on the offensive,” said Javie Ssozi, Ugandan blogger.

 

Since 2006 Uganda has been virtually free from the LRA (something the original Kony 2012 video fails to mention). Uganda is not being terrorized. They are rebuilding their lives. They want and need peace, not someone to provoke the LRA. Hunting down Kony and the LRA is cool and all, but don’t do it at the expense of a country’s safety.

 

Is there anything better?

I’m not saying that trying to stop Kony is a bad thing, because it’s not. I think it’s great that these issues were brought to the attention of the world’s youth. However, I don’t believe Kony 2012 or Invisible Children is the way to help. If you want to stop Kony and help Ugandans, that’s fantastic. But make sure your money is actually going towards that cause, not some shady advocacy group.

 

Here are a few more reliable groups who got much higher ratings on Charity Navigator than Invisible Children did. These organizations go to the people of African nations that are in need—not into corrupt governments or extravagant propaganda.

 

AMREF USA (Charity Navigator)

Africare (Charity Navigator)

Children of the Nations (Charity Navigator)

Water.org (Charity Navigator)

My reasoning behind choosing these four is because these are helping the things in Africa that we are actually able to do something about.

 

A well edited short video with first world children raising their fists and doing the wave in the shape of a peace sign is great and all, but it shouldn’t be how we judge what organizations to support. Invisible Children chose to aim their campaign towards teenagers and it has exploded into something so much bigger than expected. However, all they have really accomplished from this is gathering a group of people ignorant to the issues with fickle minds. Within a week this bandwagon was dead. This isn’t as big and as great as people think it is. It’s just hype.

 

Putting money into the right charities can accomplish a lot. However, putting money into shady charities will do absolutely nothing. Even if you are supporter of Invisible Children, wouldn’t you want your money to go into something you were absolutely sure would help? Adults and teens alike need to understand that just because it’s labeled as a charity doesn’t mean the charity is actually going to do good. I urge anyone reading this to make sure they are fully educated about Invisible Children and what they’re doing before you donate.

 

I encourage anyone who wants to learn more about these issues to review my sources bellow.

 

 

 

Sources:

http://www.blackstarnews.com/news/122/ARTICLE/6586/2010-06-02.html

http://tumblr.thedailywh.at/post/18909727859/on-kony-2012-i-honestly-wanted-to-stay-as-far

http://www.sabotagetimes.com/life/kony-2012-why-im-opposed-to-the-campaign/

http://www.hrw.org/news/2005/09/19/uganda-army-and-rebels-commit-atrocities-north

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/us-news-blog/2012/mar/07/kony-2012-video-viral-invisible-children

http://visiblechildren.tumblr.com/

http://blog.givewell.org/2012/03/08/the-worst-killer-of-invisible-children-is-not-joseph-kony/

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/uganda/9131469/Joseph-Kony-2012-growing-outrage-in-Uganda-over-film.html

http://tumblr.thedailywh.at/post/18909727859/on-kony-2012-i-honestly-wanted-to-stay-as-far

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