No matter which direction you veered down the fibre-optic freeway over the past three weeks, you’d have been hard-pressed to avoid a head-on collision with Invisible Children and their half-hour campaign vehicle. In my case, said vehicle crashed into me, thanks to the steering of overzealous folk on Facebook.
Wanting to see what everyone was fussing about, I gave it a click; for half an hour, I watched ‘n’ listened to an age-old African story retold with new places and faces; amongst all these faces—of mutilated villagers, sobbing orphans, indoctrinating filmmakers—one held elevation above all others: that of kiddy-snatching LRA warlord Joseph Kony.
It just so happens that the high-minded humanitarians at the IC want to put an end to the Carl Weathers impersonator’s 26-year-career by making him more notorious than Biggie. With his “Kony Action Kits”, moral absolutism, and a little nudge-nudge-wink-wink in the direction of pop stars and politicos, IC co-founder and video vixen Jason Russell hopes to end the Kony menace by making Pavlovian pop art out of him.
Watching the vid, however, inspired everything but humanitarian urges in me. Whereas a generation of bleeding hearts saw a new avenue for hope, change, and Care Bear Stares, I saw half an hour of digitally-engineered emotional manipulation in the name of Team America: World Police. Images of kids crying on camera; Russell indoctrinating his spawn with his Saturday morning morality; the constant nods ‘n’ prods toward George W. Obama interventionism; and the “poignant” piano music left me wondering why a sick bag wasn’t included in the Kony kits. It all reminded me of that crazy chugger bird who accosted me with her clipboard, that one time; that, and the copious charity ads which employ the same techniques on half the budget.
My distinct lack of enthusiasm (read: derision) toward the IC campaign met with admonishments from an acquaintance endorsing it, who saw fit to tar me as a conspiracy-theorizing psychopath; I also got the textbook “so what’s your solution” spiel, as if I had been the one to raise the issue.
Elsewhere on the webworld, I noticed a similar pattern of righteous rebuke against those who expressed anything other than wide-eyed endorsement of Konymania: folk with half a brain being castigated for not being “constructive”; for not doing the bleeding hearts’ research for them; for not carrying the Cross; for “doing nothing”.
“At least we’re doing something,” rang the chorus from the ConcernedTM. “What are you doing, huh? WHAT’S YOUR SOLUTION?”
For starters, perhaps you could try some fucking thinking, instead of parroting slogans more befitting of a bomberventionist.
For all their prattle about “raising awareness”, both they and their IC idols seem to have sleepwalked through the last decade of Western foreign policy and the “humanitarian” justifications for such. I mean, what else could explain IC tossing Obama’s salad over his LRA-Disarmament bill?
The comprehensive White House strategy that you released in November of 2010 to address this issue included a range of measures intended to help reduce and mitigate the effect of LRA violence in the region, and produced new hope for an end to the group’s atrocities. Through its implementation, your Administration has helped improve cooperation among regional governments, expanded programs that provide early warning of LRA attack to vulnerable communities, and invested increased resources in efforts to help LRA fighters and abductees defect peacefully. Your decision to deploy U.S. military advisors to the region in October of 2011 was a welcome measure of further assistance for regional governments in their efforts to protect people from LRA attacks. For these actions, we applaud your leadership and encourage sustained commitment.
It turns out one of the policy directives in said bill is
providing political, economic, military, and intelligence support for viable multilateral efforts to protect civilians from the Lord’s Resistance Army, to apprehend or remove Joseph Kony and his top commanders from the battlefield in the continued absence of a negotiated solution, and to disarm and demobilize the remaining Lord’s Resistance Army fighters
Look What I Did frontman Barry Donegan provided a nice, plausible take on it:
While the well-meaning people at IC might believe that the US Military is an effective assassin or policeman for the arrest, murder, or capture of individual non-state aggressors, the millions of lives lost in a multi-country pursuit of Osama Bin Laden prove the exact opposite.
In reality, allowing the US Military to intervene in the Ugandan civil war will doubtlessly involve one of three things:
(1) An invasion with ground forces to “promote stability” and “train Ugandan forces”. This would quickly deteriorate into an occupation, much like what is going on in Iraq or Afghanistan.
(2) “Targeted” missile strikes. Essentially, rumors from third-world individuals with limited technological capacity will be used to generate coordinates whereby large missiles will be fired in hopes of hitting Joseph Kony. The target will likely be missed, and civilian casualties will be considered acceptable “collateral damage.”
(3) Unmanned drones will roam the countryside bombing various homes rumored to be owned by members of the LRA faction. (See: Rural western Pakistan or the plot to Terminator 2)
This deadly bill clearly gives the President full authority to provide “military… support” to attack one thousand persona non grata that may be located in Uganda. However, they may also be located in nearby areas like the Sudan. Since a venue is not cleanly indicated in the language, any President could use this military authority to go into nearly any country in the region so long as a news article in Reuters rumored members of the targeted organization to be present.
Of course, the boys at IC don’t want anything as grandiose as full-blown bombervention; only for US military personnel to act as “advisors” to the Ugandan army…
…kinda like the early days of Nam.
On the topic of the Uganda Peoples Defence Force, it really does Russell and co no favours to throw in their lot with that lot: it’s one thing to work with, say, looters to take down killers and rapists, but it’s downright tragicomic when the very side you side with engages in the exact same behaviour you claim to combat.
Two soldiers appeared from behind a bush. They took the girls and their mother to a secluded spot before forcing the children to undress. Then, with their mother looking on, the soldiers raped the girls. Once they had finished, the soldiers swapped.
…But the men who raped Jennifer and Evelyn were not in the LRA. They were the UDPF – the government army sent to the camps to protect people from the LRA.
The attack was not an anomaly. Rights groups have documented a series of violations by the UDPF, including murder, against the people whom they were sent to protect.
The report alleges that the UPDF terrorized countless Congolese women and girls with rapes, looted mineral and timber resources, and killed hundreds of Congolese civilians, even burning people alive.
a Child Soldiers Report of 2008, which was prepared by the Coalition to Stop the use of Child Soldiers, a London-based organisation formed by leading international humanitarian groups to stop the use of child soldiers in war, claims that the UPDF continued to hold children captured from the LRA for longer than the 48-hour limit specified by UPDF regulations, and to use children for intelligence-gathering or to identify weapons caches.
“In 2005, children who escaped or were captured or released from the LRA were reportedly pressured by the UPDF to join their forces and fight the LRA,” reads the report.
The Child Soldiers Report 2008 further alleges that children below the age of 15 continued to serve in Local Defence Units (LDUs) throughout 2007.
According to the report, local government officials said the under-18s were often lured to enlist in the army by the promise of pay and because of a lack of alternative educational or employment opportunities.
Seeing as the LRA fucked off out of Uganda ages ago, whilst the UPDF are the standing army of Uganda, aren’t the latter a more pressing concern for the country’s poor, beleaguered citizens?
Moreover, isn’t the government behind the guns the same one that made headlines for their queer-unfriendly policies, a year or two back? It makes me laugh that many of the folk who wrung their hands whilst watching The World’s Worst Place to be Gay now unwittingly implore the villains of that piece to help “make a difference” for the sake of swayed sentiment.
In short, those uplifters done scored an own goal.
Other standout aspects of the anti-Kony vid are the parallels between the IC and those they “hunt”. When it comes down to it, I doubt there’s any essential difference between the swathes of fist-pumping, slogan-spouting IC Jugend who signed on for this campaign and the child cannon-fodder comprising Kony’s crew; if anything, the latter at least have the excuse of being kidnapped and indoctrinated at gunpoint. Similarly, how does Russell imprinting his Manichean morality onto his kid (and the rest of the world) differ, in any fundamental sense, from Kony’s messianic mumblings to his fledgling flock? As I see it, despite their superficial differences and Russell’s stated opposition to him, both he and Kony come across as kin beneath the skin, each scouting for impressionable young recruits to serve as their soldiers.
Contrary to the claims that, if nothing else, KONY 2012 helps “raise awareness” (the last refuge of the slacktivist scoundrel), this vid seems to have done just the opposite, at least in regard to alternative alleviations that have fuck–all to do with World Police-worshipping cults of personality; then again, that’s not really surprising, seeing as the alternatives lack the Good Guy Badges (or Bracelets) that signal one’s credentials as “an advocate of awesome”. For all the harping ‘n’ hectoring from those who suddenly became aware of Africa’s existence and their calling as Invisible Child Soldiers, I don’t see them doing much more than “raising awareness” about what Concerned Citizens of the World they are.
As an astute observer pointed out…
There’s this weird double-standard my butthurt Kony friends have wherein posting propaganda on Facebook is “doing something” but criticizing that propaganda is not.
If their guru’s public conduct is anything to go by, all the cheering and chiding from KONY 2012 supporters amounts to nowt more than a sanctified jerk-off session, one which has drowned all cognition in a putrid pool of emojaculate.