Thursday, March 08, 2012

Invisible Children responds to criticism about ‘Stop Kony’ campaign

From the Washington Post:

A new campaign spreading across the Internet says it has one goal in mind: Make Joseph Kony, the Ugandan leader of the violent Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) “famous” so he can be brought to justice.

The viral film was created by Invisible Children, a charity that seeks to end the conflict in Uganda and raises awareness about the use of child soldiers and other human rights abuses by Kony and the LRA.


But in November, a Foreign Affairs article pointedly challenged the tactics used by Invisible Children and other nonprofits working in the region to raise awareness. “Such organizations have manipulated facts for strategic purposes, exaggerating the scale of LRA abductions and murders and emphasizing the LRA’s use of innocent children as soldiers, and portraying Kony — a brutal man, to be sure — as uniquely awful, a Kurtz-like embodiment of evil,” the magazine wrote.

More here.

If you've got a few bleeding heart friends on facebook, and, being a bleeding heart myself, I have many, then you've probably been pounded by this campaign on the social network and elsewhere for the last forty eight hours or so. While on the one hand I'm pleased to see yet another left-of-center public awareness project fire up so quickly, on the other hand I have to admit that I don't really know much about the Ugandan situation, and I'm certain that I probably know more about it than most of my fb friends hitting me hard with anti-Kony posting. That is, the political problems of Africa, devastated as it still is by over a century of brutal European imperialism, from which it can hardly be called "recovered," are complex and opaque. Choosing sides is a dicey proposition at best, one that should not be undertaken lightly or easily.

So this Invisible Children thing seems a bit pat to me.

But my overall sense of the campaign came together tonight after I got home from work when I suddenly realized, vis a vis the Ugandan situation, the we have our own war criminals right here in the US, people who play golf, pontificate on television, and even sit in the best chair in the Oval Office. Here's my latest fb status update:

According to the principles established at the Nuremberg war crimes trials after WWII, the worst war crime of all is waging aggressive war, that is, choosing to go to war rather than having it forced on you, because all other war crimes take place under that umbrella of war-by-choice. And, of course, that's exactly what the US did in Iraq starting nearly a decade ago. Why, then, are so many concerned fb people all hot and bothered by this Kony guy in Africa, when Americans can't even get it together enough to prosecute OUR OWN WAR CRIMINALS?!?!? I'll start worrying about other nations' war criminals when we start worrying about our own.
This was, of course, quickly followed by a comment from one of my bleeding hearted friends:
But taking a stand for peace in any capacity or anywhere is nothing to bemoan, right? Or just make an inspiring video, rallying the masses re: our country's war criminals.
And I can never keep my mouth shut:
Okay, good point, but we've been here before, again and again. American liberals are really good at seeing the proverbial speck in the other country's eye, but not seeing the spike in their own. That is, liberals have been achingly silent about the crimes against humanity committed by the Bush administration, and now the Obama administration. For years. I'm sure this Kony guy is as evil as they say, but we have absolutely no moral license to berate him when we refuse to do anything about our own guilt. We have to do that first, or it's just a big joke, morally speaking.
Then a conservative friend popped his head up and started arguing UN resolutions, but I'll save that for another day. I mean, really, this whole thing is being driven by liberals, and that's who I'm talking to here: conservatives don't give a shit if we commit war crimes; no point in arguing with them on this.