I hope to discuss it in a rational and non-biased manner, but it will probably make someone quite angry. It's human nature to willfully misunderstand the people we disagree with. Therefore, I'd like to clear up a few things straight from the get-go.
- I am not a terrorist.
- I don't support terrorists.
- I don't support the kidnapping, drafting, and prostitution of anyone, let alone children.
- Joseph Kony is a criminal. The world would be a better place without his kind of scum.
- I'm not advocating anti-KONY 2012
The entire purpose of this essay is simply this:
I want people to think before they act.
What is KONY 2012?
This is the campaign video for KONY 2012. Watch it. Not only will they explain everything better and more thoroughly than I could, but it will allow you to make an informed decision. You shouldn't just take my opinion and run with it.
I'm trying to get people to think for themselves.
Yes, I realize that it is long. Longer than someone would usually spend on a blog post. But you seem to have time for Youtube or Psych or Big Bang Theory or CSI. If you've got time for fictional shows, you've got time for real life.
Now that you've seen it, you'll understand what I mean by controversy. You can't look at those kids and not want to punch Mr. Kony in the face about 5,000 times.
You can't speak out against this video without feeling like slime.
And anyway, it is very well made. The camera work and cutting are all nicely done. It doesn't try to propaganda you into believing them. I think they are honestly trying to present facts as they are.
But I do have a few problems with it.
Let's think about...
We're asked to donate money to this cause. We think "yes! I want to make the world a better place!"
- But if you follow the video link to the actual post page, there are credits underneath it. Original music. Royalties for the songs that were borrowed. Producers, directors, animators, cinematography...
None of those guys worked for free. And making good movies doesn't come cheap.
- Those KONY 2012 packages with the bracelets and the posters and whatnot... those had to be paid for too.
- Let's not forget air fare. How many times did these guys fly back and forth to Africa? I did a quick google search for business class flights from my apartment to Uganda. All of the top results ranged from $13,075 to $15,796.
Even if we change to the cheapest flights possible, in economy cabins with about a billion stops, each ticket is well over $2,000. (And somehow I don't think these guys fly coach.)
This isn't counting visas, camera equipment, and living costs.
In summary, what I want to know is how much of my donation is used to build schools in Uganda, and how much is going to pay a professional animator.
There was an undertone of accusation in the movie. A sort of anger at the fact that the government didn't just pop over to Africa, shoot the guy, and have done with it.
I don't profess to be great with politics. Half the time I don't know what is going on. I rather despise them, in fact.
But I think that part of the reason I despise them is because they can't be ignored. No matter how honorable your cause, if you want to get the government involved, politics come with it. And, as sad as it is, when politics get involved (which they inevitably are with war crimes) you can't just ignore them because you're "doing the right thing".
African countries have governments too. We have to work with them, not go over their heads.
Not to mention that, despite popular opinion, America can't just do whatever it wants. I guarantee you that if we made enough people mad, they could beat us in a war, even if we are technologically superior. It would take an awful lot of them, but they could do it if we tromped on the dignity of enough of them.
In Summary, we hate to admit it, but politics sometimes make it hard to "do the right thing". But we just can't ignore them either.
The LRA hasn't even been in Uganda for a while.
I looked at the linked website to learn more about this whole thing.
It's basically just one long page with a bunch of links to click on when you want to spread the word. At the bottom there's a little "about" section. It didn't tell me anything that I hadn't already seen in the video. Then I found a place at the bottom that says "for more information, visit our main website"
I clicked on it and got even less. Just a banner with a tag line. I hit the "what we do" button, hoping it would take me somewhere. It gave me 2 paragraphs. Again, almost exactly what I'd already seen in the video.
The only interesting thing I found was under the 'programs' tab. It had a (very) brief description of some of the things that are funded, like building schools. But still, nothing substantial.
I was under the impression that the video was made in order to entice us to learn more.
In their defense, you can access their financial statements on the site, but they're wordy and boring, and not things that I would ever read, even if I was devoted to their cause. It would be nice to just have a simple chart or a spreadsheet.
In summary, that half hour video is ALL the information I can find that is directly from the organization. I'm certainly not giving my money to someone who doesn't give me anything further to go on.
Breast Cancer Awareness
This KONY 2012 program is just another cancer awareness status.
Those drive me nuts.
Not because I have no sympathy for cancer victims. But because we all KNOW that cancer exists. We KNOW that people die from it. Some of us have even known someone personally who died from it.
So what about it? If I paste my status, will that cure someone? Will it somehow generate research funding? Will it do any good at all?
In order to actually do something about cancer, we have to get off our computers and start taking action. Spreading a facebook status is not action.
And as for Kony, once everyone in the world knows who he is... then what?
Everyone knew who Bin Laden was. It still took 10 years to find him.
Finding the guy
If it took 10 years to find Bin Laden in a desert, let's think about the chances of finding Kony in a rainforest within the next 8 months.
Organizations like the LRA are like hydras. They don't die when you chop off the head. A new head always rises out. Sometimes more than one. And frequently, they're worse than the original head.
Killing Kony isn't going to be a permanent solution.
If you send in an army to search for Kony and kill him, they're going to have to fight battles. And if they fight battles, they're going to have to kill Kony's soldiers.
Part of what makes Kony so bad is that he kidnaps children and does terrible things to them. He sells the girls for prostitution and trains the boys to be heartless soldiers.
Ergo, his army is made of kids.
You can't gun down children just to kill one guy. Even if he is evil. Even if he is considered the worst war criminal. You just can't.
One last point
You can judge me for this one. It's just a personal pet peeve. But going back to Bin Laden...
George Bush sent troops after Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. Those two guys were just as bad as Kony. One could almost argue that they were worse, since there was an outright attack on American soil. It's a different kind of bad added onto the other already terrible stuff.
After all this, George Bush was called a lot of names. Among them, the 'devil'. Songs were written about how terrible he was.
People cried out against him, saying that his war was unjust. And yet these same people will hand over their money to an organization whose main goal is to get the government to chase Kony like we chased Bin Laden.
The vigilantes are the heroes for doing the same thing that the government is evil for doing.
The only difference between the two situations is that America was attacked. We had strong political motivation to fight back. With Kony, we don't even have easy politics to back up the movement.
In Summary, The hypocrisy astounds me.
I'm not saying you shouldn't support KONY 2012. If you feel like it's the right thing to do, then by all means, do it.
After all, Kony is still a bad guy. And he is still a criminal. And we should still try to stop the guys like him. That's why I talked about this at such length. People should know about stuff like this, even if we don't agree with how it's being handled.
I don't have a viable alternative for the KONY 2012 thing. I'm no good with that sort of thing, even if I did.
But I really don't feel like this vigilante version of the war on terror is the right way to get lasting results.