By Amy Price
Facebook groups, Tumblr posts and viewer outcries took the Internet by storm the week of March 5. The fuss was related to “Kony 2012,” a 30-minute documentary about Ugandan war criminal Joseph Kony. The video, as of press date, has reached 84 million views on YouTube and 17.5 million on Vimeo.
The viral video created by the not-for-profit documentary group Invisible Children, brought Kony, leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, to the sights of the uninformed.
According to the 30-minute video, the LRA is responsible for rapes, murders and pillages. The LRA fights for no clear cause. Kony abducts children and forces them to fight in his army.
“Kony 2012” highlights the awful treatment of these abducted children, including showing images of the brutal and violent physical mutilations some of the children go through.
Invisible Children encourages the capture of Kony through military intervention.
The Kony 2012 campaign’s goal is to increase awareness about Kony and his actions and to motivate sympathizers to push the American government and others to intervene in the search.
A Kony 2012 action kit, which has since sold out, was on sale for $30 on Invisible Children’s website. The action kit included buttons, posters, stickers and an action guide, encouraging buyers to “decorate yourself and the town with this one-stop shop.”
It is amazing to see so many people rally together over a cause, but I do not think this is the cause people should be putting so much effort into. The Kony 2012 campaign has its flaws.
According to a recent article by Foreign Policy magazine, Kony has not been active in Uganda since 2006 due to a major push from the Ugandan military. Kony is thought to be residing in remote locations north of Uganda. The Foreign Policy article also states that President Barack Obama, as of October 2011, deployed 100 U.S. Special Forces members to track Kony.
The LRA does not have 30,000 child soldiers as portrayed in the video, according to the same article. This number is a rough estimate of children abducted through the last 30 years. While this number is shocking, so is the total of those killed in the last 20 years of the Ugandan conflict – also 30,000.
According to an article published Feb. 24 by Intelnews, the 100 Special Forces members Obama sent are currently stationed across four African countries working and gathering information to take down the LRA. If Kony is not in Uganda, the U.S has 100 Special Forces members working on this issue, and his army is at its smallest, why are people so interested in this issue? I blame the deceitful methods of the video and the powerful use of social media.
If society would only band together for more prudent causes like fighting terrorism or poverty, one can only imagine what kind of positive change could happen in the U.S. and around the world.
Invisible Children CEO Ben Keesey recently made a follow-up video addressing criticism and has asked any other questions be directed toward @Invisible on twitter with hashtag #AskICAnything.
In the response video, Keesey explained the organization’s mission statement as well as its finances.
I believe they are only preaching to the choir in this video. I still did not hear anything convincing.
According to an article published by the Huffington Post, just three days after Keesey’s video, Invisible Children co-founder Jason Russell was detained by the San Diego police after he was spotted wandering streets nude, yelling and pounding his fists on the ground. Videos have since surfaced of the ordeal. Keesey released a statement, claiming Russell’s mental breakdown was due to “exhaustion, dehydration and malnutrition.”
Russell’s offensive act has certainly tarnished his reputation and has further sealed the deal on my outlook on Invisible Children. It is a shame the organization failed at truthfully portraying this horrible criminal. I support the capture of Kony, but I also support the capture of all the other tyrants in the world.