Everyone’s getting very excited about this ‘Stop Joseph Kony’ video that is going viral right now. But there are some serious questions that are being asked in response to it by many commentators. Having read some of those criticisms, I was unsure what really to make of it all. I really liked the video, and you can’t deny how powerful it was. 37 million views in a couple of days! Even while I was writing this out, its had a few more million hits…Amazing!!!!!!!!!!
So I decided to post some of those links criticising the video’s flaws on my Facebook and see what the response was. I get a few comments after a while, and one in particular calling me a conspiracy theorist but mainly saying why can’t we appreciate the good its trying to do. A fair comment. Naturally, I decided to respond to this, but my response became a bit long and I decided what the hell, let me just put a post up about this so everyone can see and share their thoughts. So the following is some thoughts and questions I have at the moment about it all… Feel free to add your own and to correct me.
I will put my hands up from the get go – I don’t completely understand it all either (yet), hence I posted these links encouraging people to question and look deeper, and make up their own minds after doing so. I am glad that you have taken up the time to do that, as most probably won’t. I’ve still to make up my mind on the whole thing, and this was another reason for my post – to see what people think and what their views are.
You are right. I wholly agree that it is great to see everyone coming together, using that power for said good cause and sincerely promoting that cause to raise awareness so that things can change. It is an inspiring thing to see from that perspective, and great to see how many people care. This video has gotten 37 million views in a couple of days and it’s still going. Wow. Be interesting to see how many views it ends up with and it’s great so many people are seeing this. But there are still some things that don’t sit right. So let’s analyse further.
Let me first deal with your main criticism towards me – the ”Kesh is a conspiracy theorist’ line of argument you put across, thereby trying to discredit anything I say or post. Lets assume, that you are right (because you know me so well) and your judgement is completely correct. What does that mean? Being labelled as a conspiracy theorist means I’m someone that after watching some YouTube videos probably believes in things like the illuminati, the NWO, aliens, chemtrails, etc etc. Basically that I’m very paranoid about what goes on around me in the world and base my views on questionable info and sources. How does that take anything away from the sources I posted? I have nothing to do with them, their information, the arguments they present or the sources and information they use. I haven’t added anything to their argument apart from ‘look deeper everyone and decide for yourself’. As I said before, I posted some sources of info and told you to decide for yourself. So that point goes out of the window.
Next up. Why can’t we appreciate the good in it and why do we have to find the flaws? … Erm. As opposed to what exactly? Not questioning anything and swallowing it whole? Because its a ‘good cause’ that ‘raises awareness’ we should turn off our rational thinking faculty? Yes. It is well intentioned and it does raise awareness because of the publicity. But what else does it do and what else DOESN’T it do? Complex issues have complex answers. And the world is not black and white. In the same way, this KONY thing is not as black and white as FIRST SEEMS. So let me summarise for you, the ‘grey areas’ and again, you decide for yourself.
1.) Okay it raises awareness. Then what? You watch the video, share it because you believe in the message and go to the event, plaster posters everywhere saying KONY KONY KONY KONY. And everyone knows about it. You also give some money and buy some of the cool t-shirts and bracelets and make donations.
2.) Now what happens? Don’t you think the problems and solutions presented in the video are a bit easy? We put up posters and bang, a revolution just ‘happens’ in Uganda. Why is the focus of the video on us? As opposed to say, the citizens and people of Uganda? Why can’t they solve their problems themselves? Why do they need us, to swoop in and ‘rescue’ them? Is that how the world works? Is that what happens in your own life? Is it better for someone to learn to swim and not drown and be self sufficient. Or is it better if they become reliant on other people’s aid? Which situation will help them most?
3.) Military intervention. Which is what the video seems to hint at. Let me quote the film (at 14 mins in). “When my friends and I came home, we thought if the government knew, they would do something to stop him. Everyone in washington we talked to said – there is no way the United States will ever get involved in a conflict where our national security or financial interests aren’t at stake”. So lets strip away the rhetoric (another dangerous thing – I suggest you read George Orwell: Politics & The English Language for reasons why) and make clear what he said. The government doesn’t care if children are being abducted, raped, killed, abused in a far off land unless there is a selfish gain for them to achieve from it. I.e Monetary or financial gain or ‘national’ interests. What does ‘national’ interests even mean anyway? Another phrase we hear so much of, that has no real meaning. Again, see the Orwell essay for why.
4.) What else, apart from giving money, putting up posters and sharing a video does this all encourage YOU to do? Does it encourage you to read about the politics and issues affecting Uganda? Does it get you to think about relations between the US and Uganda? Or even the US and the continent of Africa? I think it inspires you, yes. I got goosebumps watching this, and it really does motivate you. But does it inform you? or give you a skewed, unfinished picture of the real stakes at play? Do they want their audience to be well informed, educated citizens who can understand the whole picture or half informed, half educated people who see SOME of the picture?
5.) YES. Kony is a bad guy. But bad guys don’t just pop up and survive and prosper in countries JUST LIKE THAT. How has he managed to evade capture for so long? How has he become powerful enough to do that? How has he got weapons? Where did those weapons come from? Who did he buy them from? They didn’t end up there by accident. And the world isn’t just full of clear cut ‘good’ vs ‘bad’ guys. It’s full of good people that are good some of the time. Or bad people that are bad most of the time and sometimes good. I could go on, but you get my idea. Viewing Kony very simply as a ‘bad’ guy – what does this appeal to? Our humanity or our prejudice? There are no bad and good guys. Just good human beings and better human beings. We’re complex beings, we should keep that in mind. Not at all defending him but just making note of that. Can you categorise your Facebook friends into clear groups of bad and good? If not, then what makes you think you could do that elsewhere?
6.) Meanwhile, our attention is focused right now on this KONY business. But what else is going in the world? Who are the other bad guys? What about DR Congo where more people have died in a war over minerals than in the Second World War say? (the same minerals that made my iPhone, my laptop, etc that I use) Whos the bad guys there? What about what’s happening in Syria, Palestine, Libya, Sudan, Somalia? What about the ‘bad guy’ who we ignored for decades, that we gave weapons to, Mr. Saddam Hussein? What about the bad guys from Fallujah, where babies are so deformed from the nuclear fallout that they have two heads? Where is the awareness for that? If we really care. If we are so passionate, we can’t just focus on one issue and call it a day. Shouldn’t we stop injustice every time it rears its ugly head? Whereever that is, and whenever that is? Shouldn’t we be consistent? What about the bad guys that went to university for free and then tripled the fees for our generation? What about the bad guys that are after Julian Assange for making governments more open? What about Bradley Manning? Alfie Meadows? The bad guys that killed Mark Duggan? Or Smiley Culture?
7.) Kony hasn’t been in Uganda for 5 years. Their govt asked for help decades ago. Why is this becoming focused on and of interest all of a sudden?
8.) How much do you really care? Do you care enough to pick up a book everyday and read about global issues? Or is this just for show, because its current trend and the information was given to you in a 30 minute video, with a cute little boy in it, epic background music and images of revolution and it being cool and fun? Is revolution and change really that easy? Is it really just about having fun? or is it built on years of struggle, perseverance, blood, sweat, tears – years of screaming and shouting? Is anything ever that easy? Was it easy for you to get a degree/GCSE/A-level/whatver? Or did you have to work for it over a period of time? Will people still care in six months time? What about in ten years? Will you all still be making tyrants famous then? Or is your hate being whipped up into a frenzy for some other reason?
Raising awareness doesn’t save countries, sustainable solutions over long periods of time do. Military intervention doesn’t rid the world of evil dictators, education, proper justice systems do. Even if we stop KONY, what makes you think another one won’t appear? What makes you think that his deputies, the rest of his armies, won’t take his place? Prevention is better than cure.
The guy in the video said it himself. We don’t just go to countries because we feel bad and want to help them. So why do we suddenly want to go to Uganda? What’s so special about Uganda? Did we go to Iraq/Afghanistan because we genuinely cared that things were bad? We have to view this in the context of history.
Complex questions have complex answers. I don’t apologise for the epic essay/rant/post whatever you want to call it. I have a lot to say, because I genuinely care – Just like you do. I post a lot of things, because I hate to see things like this happening – Just like you do. There is a lot going on, and frankly, I still don’t get it all – Just like you. I want the world to change and I want it to be so much better. So with that in common, after all the BS, all the hype and the politics and the differences, what can WE do? Right now. What can we do right here, at home in our local communities? Issues and problems are everywhere, and so are solutions. You just have to be passionate and patient enough to find them and see them through. It’s one thing to post a video and proclaim the values it preaches when they are criticised, but quite another to pick up a book and inform yourself on different views. It’s quite another to start trying to implement solutions, especially when you will be criticised and ignored because you’re not doing something ‘cool’ or popular. Its not about what you say or do, its about the choices that you make, everyday of your life.
I hope that my reply does not come across as arrogant or malicious in any way. It’s not meant to be. I just care that much that I spent this long trying to explain my position to you. I’m not a conspiracy theorist mate, I’m a human being. I admire the creativity of the KONY video and campaign. But all that glitters is not gold. The video is not completely wrong, you are right about that. But it is not completely right either, we can’t forget that. That’s why we have to burst this bubble of idealism. As they said themselves, and something they are definitely right about –
“Where you live, shouldn’t determine whether you live. We were committed to stop Kony and rebuild what he had destroyed. And because we couldn’t wait for institutions or governments to step in, we did it ourselves.”
So yes, let’s stop Kony. Let’s do it ourselves. But more importantly, lets stop any and all injustice big or small. Let’s extend their idea and use it first off in our own lives, and then in our own communities and societies.
The hashtag shouldn’t just read Stop Kony, but Stop Injustice. Everywhere, all of the time.
Some sources/views on the Stop Kony video and campaign:
And this is what the Occupy movement posted on their FB earlier: ****De-bunking the Kony2012 ‘Invisible Children’ Campaign****
The Kony2012 ‘Invisible Children’ campaign is but another front for a foreign venture into a military campaign that DOES NOT serve the interest of the Ugandan citizens.
Lobbying politicians to militarily intervene is doing the leg work for well paid lobbying groups who do exactly the same! And the arms manufacturers and PMC’s will profit, happily. This campaign is a ploy and even the legitimacy of those involved in Invisible Children has been brought to question – unanswered.
There is a hysteria building around this Invisibly Children campaign don’t fall for it, do your own research; numerous aid workers, activist blogs etc explicitly show the second side to this story. The information in the video is outdated by years and is dangerous propaganda.
Kony is a tyrant, so is Obama, so is Cameron, so is Netanyahu, so is Assad and so is Ahmadinejad.. but Kony is being isolated and scapegoated for the purpose of intervention – and intervention serves the interests of Corporations. This is all about cold, blood drenched money.
The questions we should be asking our politicians are where did these dictators get their weapons and training from in the first place, who put these guys in place? They are General Pinochet’s of yesterday and Mustafa Abdul Jalil’s of tommorow, homegrown dictators, they are, ‘Our bastards!’.