I’m no expert, but it doesn’t take a genius to realize that as soon as the MSM pick up a story, you know that it has to be a fraudulent advertising piece because due to a strict public policy, they NEVER publish truth. KONY 2012 is no different. It is a “product” of a group called Invisible Children, a controversial activist group and apparently non-profit organization. They’ve put out 11 short movies, most with a matching colour bracelet (KONY 2012 is red), all of which showcase the evils of Joseph Kony. When we buy merchandise from them, when we link to their video, when we put up posters linking to their website, we support the organization. I don’t think that’s a good thing, and I will expand as to why if you care to read the rest of this rant.
Invisible Children has been, and continues to be exposed time and time again. As a registered non-profit organization, its finances are by law, public. Last year, the organization spent $8,676,614. Only 31% went to their charity program. (here’s proof of that from there own mouths.) this is far from optimal, and “Charity Navigator” (America’s leading independent charity evaluator, works to advance a more efficient and responsive philanthropic marketplace by evaluating the Financial Health and Accountability and Transparency of America’s largest charities) places their accountability 2/4 stars, 50% btw, because they haven’t had their finances externally audited. But it goes waaaaaay deeper. I’m just getting started. These dudes (invisible children) are in favour of direct military intervention and their money funds the Ugandan government’s army and various other military forces. Here’s a photo of the 3 founders of Invisible Children posing with weapons and personnel of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army or SPLA.
Both the Ugandan army and Sudan People’s Liberation Army are heaping with the same accusations of rape and looting, but Invisible Children defends them, arguing that the Ugandan army is “better equipped than that of any of the other affected countries”, although Kony is no longer active in Uganda and hasn’t been since 2006, and that ain’t me talking, that’s by their own admission. Granted, the majority of Invisible Children’s spending isn’t on funding African militias, (although PLENTY is) but on awareness and filmmaking. which can be a extremely helpful and great cause, except that Foreign Affairs has claimed that Invisible Children (among others) “manipulates 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.” in this article here he’s certainly a bad guy, even as far as “evil”, but exaggeration, manipulation, propaganda and pure bullshit to entrap the masses viewpoint is unproductive, unprofessional and straight up dishonest. “There’s also something inherently misleading, naive, maybe even dangerous, about the idea of rescuing children or saving of Africa. […] It hints uncomfortably of the White Man’s Burden. Worse, sometimes it does more than hint. The savior attitude is pervasive in advocacy, and it inevitably shapes programming. Usually misconceived programming.” – Christ Blattman, political scientist at Yale. Speaking of which, one of there older campaign ads reeks of this particular racial suggestion.
So obviously, Kony’s a horrible person, and he’s been around forever and a day. Which is probably why the US has been involved in stopping him for years (right?). U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) has sent many, many missions to capture or outright kill Kony over the years. And they’ve failed miserably time and time again, each time though, provoking an angry and savage response and increased retaliation and senseless slaughter. The problem with fighting a military battle with a man who uses a child army is that his bodyguards and personnel are children. Any attempts made to dispose, apprehend or kill this guy will almost guaranteed result in many children’s deaths, an impact that I thought we wanted to be minimized as much as possible. Each attempt will ALWAYS bring more retaliation. And yet Invisible Children funds this military intervention. Kony has been involved in peace talks in the past, which have failed. And this justifies somehow Invisible Children’s new push focusing on military action. Military intervention is never, ever, ever the right idea, but I don’t know how many people supporting KONY 2012 realize they’re helping fund the Ugandan military, which are themselves raping and looting away. If people know this and still support Invisible Children because they feel it’s the best solution based on their knowledge and research, then you need to read more before creating ANY sort of opinion on the matter. Ignorance is no excuse to support war. Don’t get me wrong. Awareness good and very important. But these “problems” are multi-leveled and extremely complex, not one-dimensional and, frankly, ain’t the type of thing that can be remedied by postering, film-making and changing your Facebook profile picture, as hard as that is to swallow. Giving your hard earned incomes and public support to Invisible Children so they can spend it on funding ill-advised violent intervention and movie #12 isn’t helping either. As a matter of fact it’s hurting. Now, “but Nelson, do YOU have any solutions as to what to do about Kony and the problems in Central Africa?” No, I don’t, but that doesn’t mean that you should support KONY 2012 just because it’s “something”. Something isn’t always better than nothing. Sometimes it’s worse. By all means, if you want to post about Joseph Kony’s crimes, go ahead. But let’s try to make it and try to keep it about Joseph Kony, not Invisible Children, not war against children and not KONY 2012. P.S. For context, 31% is bad. By contrast, Direct Relief reports 98.8% of its funding goes to programming. American Red Cross reports 92.1% to programming. UNICEF USA is at 90.3%. Invisible Children reports that 80.5% of their funding goes to programming, while I report 31% based on their FY11 fiscal reports, because other NGOs would count film-making as fundraising expenses, not programming expenses