Does anyone else think this Kony 2012 debate is getting a bit out of hand?
Maybe it’s just me.
But I am seeing a heck of a lot people arguing about it. And I don’t really understand why.
Okay, so Invisible Children have mis-sold themselves a fair ol’ bit. Not good. Not good at all. Little to no mention of the lessening of LRA violence recently, a similar lack of info about their intention to work with the Museveni regime. Interesting decision to give more military might to the guy who essentially let Kony do what he wanted. Also interesting that there is a military stance on this intervention. I definitely agree with one article which said that this is very much a neo-colonialist, paternalistic interference. I also agree that IC have been extreeemely sketchy on their details.
But, I also literally just did a project for my uni course on the morality (or immorality) of humanitarian and NGO aid in post-colonial Africa. I found lots of evidence which said that we in the countries who are behind NGOs, well we don’t exactly do a massively great job at getting involved in Africa big-scale sometimes. We have kinda messed it up a fair few times: Darfur, Somalia, Sudan etc. But I just couldn’t bring myself to conclude that there’s anything immoral about that incredible human emotion which involves seeing human suffering and wanting to rip it away from the people we see consumed within it. And, to be honest, isn’t that where this whole IC, Kony 2012 thing started? Isn’t that what we should think about here?
Let’s not get wrapped up in this ‘youth only back this because it’s a cool video’ nonsense. I’m technically probably still just in the category of youth and I certainly didn’t feel that this video, which was incredibly slick and well-produced, affected me more than other campaigns I’ve ever seen, or indeed in recent weeks, read about. I didn’t jump the bandwagon because I thought it made me a moral person. And I’m not going to believe that at the very least, 99% of people got on it for a reason different to mine.
And I got on it because I saw a child crying about seeing his brother get his throat slit, I saw him telling a man that it is better to die than to live as he was, I saw children carrying guns and people irreversibly mutilated. And I was angry. That’s why I got on board. And I can’t understand why people think that finding out that the IC isn’t perfect means that this isn’t still the whole flipping point of this. People died. And I understand that there is a sense of ‘why are we all self-righteously interfering?’ I get that. But the one argument I accepted most out of that video, was that if that happened to a child in the US or UK, or any country similar, I know what the reaction would be. Just one child. Not tens of thousands.
So, to be honest, I don’t understand how people watched the video, recognised that the IC didn’t tell you a lot, while still saying lots of things and showing lots of videos. It was kinda obvious, wasn’t it? Why should a couple of people pointing this out start loads of rows about something that, 5 minutes ago, everyone thought was all good? I still support Kony 2012. I’m not going to lie about it. I’ve had this discussion at least 5 or 6 times now. Agreeing with Kony 2012 doesn’t necessarily mean you’re bound to agreeing with other IC policy or conduct. I am aware that it is slightly at odds with the idea that they are militarising Museveni’s regime throughout this, and this is possibly something I can’t come to terms with. But, there are 3 reasons why I support Kony 2012.
Firstly, okay, from some sources I’ve read, Kony isn’t exactly at the height of strength at the moment. The large proportion of people know at least something about the Nuremberg Trials and they don’t exactly say they were wrong. Because the thing is, we were too late to stop Kony, whatever the reason. But my argument is this: okay, it’s not going to get anyone’s lives back (neither their loved ones nor their homes) but Kony deserves to go to trial as a criminal, he deserves to have his rights as a free person taken away. Because the people he hurt, they have nothing - less than nothing - and what can they take from this? That people who could have brought him to justice, that saw that he was free and safe(ish) didn’t try and bring him in and make him answer to what he had done? To me the point of Kony 2012 is to make a stand and say that no, the community should be more an international one now, and the international community says no.
Secondly, and similarly, I’m not naive enough to believe that ‘oh yes if we kill all the tyrants we kill tyranny’. We’re never going to kill tyranny. I know that. But we’re certainly never going to have a damn good try at it by willing it away. You can’t kill an idea but you can put the people who are the central rallying point for it into prison. I know there’s a chance that someone else’ll just come along but that’s the risk you take. Kony 2012 sees this and is trying something new, fair play to them, that deserves at least some credit.
And thirdly: intervention can be paternalistic and neo-colonialist. But once you know what’s gone on, what kind of a person does it make you if, even if you can’t/don’t, you don’t even want to make a difference about it? I couldn’t settle the score with myself if I learnt that stuff about Kony but thought ‘nah the IC aren’t 100% great, the project is invalid.’
I guess the thing is, Kony 2012 has got people talking, has rattled a few cages. Maybe making Kony infamous isn’t exactly going to do much, but is has brought one thing to the forefront. We promise, every time, that we’ll never forget, we’ll never let it happen again, because that’s genuinely how we feel. The Holocaust, the Rwandan genocide, maybe even 9/11 are all examples of this. But Kony 2012 has made people aware that these things, no matter how much we want to nip them in the bud, can slip under the radar (and that’s not totally the community’s fault). It has, perhaps, I hope encouraged people to look a bit more closely at things, look a bit further than their own back gardens and to realise that the media doesn’t report stuff like this as front page news: it does prefer to report on Rihanna or Lady GaGa than this. You’re not just going to hear about this stuff by glancing at the front page or turning on the TV. Kony 2012 might ensure that maybe next time, we will be better informed and better prepared. Then again, maybe we won’t. Because unfortunately there will always be a next time.
So, yeah, that’s my stuuupidly long rant, which, tbh, I really needed out of my system, I keep seeing so much uninformed anger and it’s really quite irritating, given that it’s literally everywhere you go.
All comments and opinions are, of course, beyond appreciated, but I’m not massively invested in starting an excessively heated political debate on this blog. I only got 3 hours sleep last night. Please don’t flame me :-)