Why I’m Boycotting #KONY 2012

Joseph Kony

Before “covering the night” Please Read:
Very few people in the WORLD have yet to hear about #KONY2012, the fastest growing video to go viral on YouTube. And as the night of the 20th draws close, everyone is eagerly waiting to see whether the video is successful in getting young adults off of their behinds and in the streets for a cause very far away from their homes. I for one am a young adult who won’t be participating in “Cover the Night” even though the video was powerful and moving. The video had me engaged and my eyes glued to the screen for its duration, but as soon as it was over I asked myself “what the video is asking me to support?” I also asked myself “why am I finding it hard to buy this Jason Russell character?”

First Question: what is the video asking me to support?

It might not be clear at first, but the video is ultimately asking for young adults to support United States Military Interventions in Uganda. Coated under all the powerful music and images is a call to an unjustified “occupation”.  To better, explore the issue lets first answer the question “is military intervention ever justified?” the quick answer is yes, as long as it is not the US that is intervening. The United States has Invaded Iraq under grounds for Humanitarian intervention; they did the same in Libya. Even the 100 “military advisors” present in Uganda now are reminiscent of the “military advisors” present prior to the spark of the Vietnam War. The US foreign policy isn’t one that’s based on Humanitarian Intervention; if it did it wouldn’t still have bases in post-WWII countries. I find it troubling to support #KONY2012 on the grounds of increasing the US military presence in Uganda, which the video clearly called for. The video states that the organization is going to target 20 politicians and 12 celebrities (or was it 12 politicians and 20 celebrities, the number doesn’t really matter)  to put pressure on the US government to increase its military presence and help bring the most wanted man by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to justice.

Secondly, Joseph Kony is no longer in Uganda, so why should America increase its military presence there? Joseph Kony hasn’t been in Uganda for the past six years. But what has been discovered in Uganda in the past six years is Oil. The Ugandan journalist Angelo Opi-aiya Izama had the following to say on his blog:

  Lastly but not least the geography of the area (Uganda’s border with the DRC) has large deposits of oil. Uganda and DRC first signed a joint cooperating agreement in 1993 for oil development. That was before the 1994 genocide and the consequent invasion of the Congo by Rwanda and Uganda. Since then Uganda has moved ahead with its own program announcing major finds in 2006/7 just as the LRA firmed up in Garamba.

And we know, where there is Oil, there is an American interest…
Jason Russell- Filmmaker co-founder of Invisible Children

Second Question: Why am I finding it hard to buy this Jason Russell Character?

When I first saw the film, I thought to myself “only two types of people travel to Africa straight out of college, Hippies and Missionaries, and Russell does not look like a hippie.” In a lengthy article published in The Atlantic last week, Josh Kron explores the ties between Invisible Children and the Christian Church:

Invisible Children, as an organization, does not formally affiliate itself with any religious entity. Indeed, not all of its staff, supporters, and financial backers are actively Christian or affiliated with Christian organizations — just most of the most important ones.

The group is a product, and perhaps the most successful manifestation of, a little-known, ultra-liberal, and highly controversial post-Evangelical Christian movement known as the Emerging Church.

The emerging church is a Christian movement where according to Wikipedia: Participants seek to live their faith in what they believe to be a ‘postmodern’ society.   In Kron’s article “The Emerging Church has no formal organization, no single leader, and no uniform code of belief. It’s part of a larger Generation-Y of disillusioned youth looking for a cooler, more accessible brand of Christianity for the 21st century.” The movement rejects the institutional church however believes in following Christ as an individual. The movement does not spread Christianity through the bible but through compassion, just like the movie did. In the same article Jason is quoted as saying

“The trick is to not go out into the world and say I am going to baptize you, I’m going to convict you, I have an agenda to win you over,” Russell said at Liberty University. “Your agenda is to look into the eyes, as Jesus did, and say, who are you, and will you be my friend? Like he did to the prostitutes, to the tax collectors, to the fishermen.”

Jason Russell and the founders of Invisible Children insist that their organization is separate from their faith. Which is possible, I can devote to a faith and work for a secular NGO or setup a secular NGO, and not all invisible children members “actively Christians”. However, a significant sum of Invisible Children’s funding does come from conservative Evangelical Churches. In his own words, Russell admits to being able to go work as a Trojan horse between the Christian activists and the secular realm:
“We are able to be the Trojan horse in a sense, going into a secular realm and saying, guess what, life is about orphans and it’s about the widow. It’s about the oppressed,” Russell said during the 2005 conference. “It’s driven by an adventure and the adventure is God’s and it’s his story.
Personally, i have nothing against Christian missionary work,  or spreading your faith in third world country but i do have issue with #KONY2012.  Joseph Kony is war criminal wanted by the ICC, who has kidnapped boys and turned them into child soldiers and kidnapped girls and turned them into sex workers. Therefore, Kony has to be stopped, arrested and tried in court because his crimes are wrong and not because we await a reward, in Jason Russell’s case, from God.

If you would like to know more about Invisible Children, don’t visit their website, read this:
The Guardian (they have a full section on the subject)
The Atlantic (must read!!!)

3 thoughts on “Why I’m Boycotting #KONY 2012”

  1. It does seem that armed us presence is spreading the globe, yet in almost all cases for reasons of access or protection of resources. In this case, there is not much to gain, while the presence requested is not for an army but a few soldiers as aids to the current troops. Its mission oriented, and unlike other large scale wars with an indefinite time period and unclear target, such as a drug war, war on terror, or securing the nation, this action is clearly well defined,

    Your personal view of the facts is equal to that of the organization, even if connected, and you have neglected the common cause you both share due to your personal beliefs of why a cause is worthwhile, ignoring the end result.

    Are you doing more good than harm by boycotting it?

    1. Good Job!! overall. Mohammad.

      While I was reading, I was looking for a crucial aspect to be mentioned, the outcome of the main American interventions.

      According to Noam Chomsky, he states that the total deaths in the Vietnam War were more than four million.

      According to Wikileaks, 200,000 people died in the Iraqi’s war, 60% of them are civilians.

      Now for response above me, after stating the facts of the consequences by the two main American military interventions, it is clear that it is a negative action for the US to intervene, thus I think If Kony is still in Uganda doing his thing with the “invisible children” he is a less criminal than killing millions of civilians. The main points that Mohamad stated is that KONY IS NOT IN UGANDA ANYMORE, and the facts that about oil in Uganda. From the to main points in Mohamads article, it is evident that there is some absurdity in Kony’s video, and a kind of fishy, I mean all of the attention!!!

    2. Dear Word, thanks for your input…
      I think we both agree that the US armed presence in any country has a lot to do with “access to resources” as you put it… However, the US doesn’t deploy troops because it feels like it, there has to be a mission, a target (as you also put it). The announced mission here is Kony, just like the announced mission in Iraq was WMDs…. just a statement for further military presence.
      Furthermore, i don’t believe the movie states that invisible children is asking for military advisors but is asking for more military presence. Even in the second part they try to justify INTERVENTION on grounds for R2P… which has no grounds in Uganda today….


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