Kony 2012 Part 3 (reblog)

I’m reblogging this post from Pieces of Mee as it says far more eloquently than I eveything I have been trying to say in both my previous posts and the comments below them.

Dear Jason Russell,

  1. After being bombarded with your KONY 2012 crusade, I have no choice but to respond to your highly inaccurate, offensive, and harmful propaganda.  I realized I had to respond in hopes of stopping you before you cause more violence and deaths to the Acholi people (Northern Ugandans), the very people you are claiming to protect.

    Firstly, I would like to question your timing of this KONY 2012 crusade in Uganda when most of the violence from Joseph Kony and the LRA (The Lord’s Resistance Army) has subsided in Uganda in the past 5 years. The LRA has moved onto neighboring countries like the DRC and Sudan. Why are you not urging action in the countries he is currently in? Why are you worried about Kony all of a sudden when Ugandans are not at this present moment?

    This grossly illogical timing and statements on your website such as “Click here to buy your KONY 2012 products” makes me believe that the timing has more to do with your commercial interests than humanitarian interests. With the upcoming U.S. presidential elections and the waning interest in Invisible Children, it seems to be perfect timing to start a crusade. I also must add at this point how much it personally disgusts me the way in which you have commercialized a conflict in which thousands of people have died.

    Secondly, I would like to address the highly inaccurate content of your video. Your video did not leave the viewer any more knowledgeable about the conflict in Uganda, but only emotionally assaulted. I could not help but notice how conveniently one-sided the “explanation” in your video was. There was absolutely no mention of the role of the Ugandan government and military in the conflict. Let alone the role of the U.S. government and military.  The only information given is “KONY MUST BE STOPPED.”

    I would like to inform you that stopping Kony would not end the conflict. (It is correctly pronounced “Kohn” by the way). This conflict is deeply embedded in Uganda’s history that neither starts nor ends with Kony. Therefore, your solution to the problem is flawed. There is no way to know the solution, without full knowledge of the problem itself.  We must act on knowledge, not emotions.

    Joseph Kony formed the LRA in retaliation to the brutality of President Museveni (from the south) committing mass atrocities on the Acholi people (from the north) when President Museveni came to power in 1986. This follows a long history of Ugandan politics that can be traced back to pre-colonial times.  The conflict must be contextualized within this history. (If you want to have this proper knowledge, I suggest you start by working with scholars, not celebrities).  President Museveni is still in power and in his reign of 26 years he has arguably killed as many, if not more Acholi people, than Joseph Kony. Why is President Museveni not demonized, let alone mentioned? I would like to give you more credit than just ignorance. I have three guesses. One is that Invisible Children has close ties with the Ugandan government and military, which it has been accused of many times. Second, is that you are willing to fight Kony, but not the U.S. Government, which openly supports President Museveni. Third, is that Invisible Children feels the need to reduce the conflict to better commercialize it.

    This brings me to my third issue, the highly offensive nature of your video. Firstly, it is offensive to your viewer. The scene with your “explanation” of the conflict to your toddler son suggests that the viewers have the mental capacity of a toddler and can only handle information given in such a reductionist manner. I would like to think American teenagers and young adults (which is clearly your target audience) are smarter than your toddler son. I would hope that we are able to realize that it is not a “Star Wars” game with aliens and robots in some far off galaxy as your son suggests, but a real world conflict with real world people in Uganda. This is a real life conflict with real life consequences.

    Secondly, and more importantly, it is offensive to Ugandans. The very name “Invisible Children” is offensive. You claim you make the invisible, visible. The statements, “We have seen these kids.” and “No one knew about these kids.” are part of your slogan. You seem to be strongly hinting that you somehow have validated and found these kids and their struggles.

    Whether you see them or not, they were always there. Your having seen the kids does not validate their existence in any shape or form or bring it any more significance. You say “no one” knew about the kids. What about the kids themselves? What about the families of the kids who were killed and abducted? Are they “no one?” Are they not human?

    These children are not invisible, you are making them invisible by silencing, dehumanizing, marketing, and invalidating them.

    Last year I went to Gulu, Uganda, where Invisible Children is based, and interviewed over 50 locals.  Every single person questioned Invisible Children’s legitimacy and intention. Every single person. If anything, it seemed the people saw Invisible Children as a bigger threat than Joseph Kony at the time. Why is it the very people you are trying to “help” feel more offense than relief with your aid?

    “They come here to make money and use us.”

    “It makes us feel terrible to be presented as being so stupid and helpless.”

    These are direct quotes. This was the sentiment of the majority of the people that I interviewed in varying degrees. I definitely didn’t see or hear these voices or opinions in your video. If you are to be “saving” the Acholi people, the very least you can be doing is holding yourself accountable to them and actually listening to what they have to say.

    This offensive, inaccurate misconstruction of Ugandans and its conflict makes me wonder what and whom this is really about. It seems that you feel very good about yourself being a savior, a Luke Skywalker of sorts, and same with the girl in your video who passionately states, “This is what defines us”. Therefore, I can’t help but wonder if Invisible Children is more about defining the American do-gooders (and making them feel good), rather than the Ugandans; profiteering the American military and corporations (which Invisible Children is officially and legally) than the conflict.

    Lastly, I would like to address the harmful nature of your propaganda. I believe your actions will actually bring back the fighting in Northern Uganda. You are not asking for peace, but violence. The fighting has stopped in the past 5 years and the Acholi are finally enjoying some peace.  You will be inviting the LRA and the fighting back into Uganda and disturbing this peace. The last time Invisible Children got politically involved and began lobbying it actually caused more violence and deaths. I beg you not to do it again.

    If you open your eyes and see the actions of the Ugandan government and the U.S. government, you will see why.  Why is it that suddenly in October of 2011 when there has been relative peace in Uganda for 4 years, President Obama decided to send troops into Uganda? Why is it that the U.S. military is so involved with AFRICOM, which has been pervading African countries, including Uganda? Why is it that U.S. has been traced to creating the very weapons that has been used in the violence?  The U.S. is entering Uganda and other countries in Africa not to stop violence, but to create a new battlefield.

    In your video you urge that the first course of action is that the Ugandan military needs American military and weapons. You are giving weapons to the very people who were killing the Acholi people in the first place. You are helping to open the grounds for America to make Uganda into a battlefield in which it can profit and gain power. Please recognize this is all part of a bigger military movement, not a humanitarian movement. This will cause deaths, not save lives. This will be doing more harm, than good.

    You end your video with saying, “I will stop at nothing”.  If nothing else, will you not stop for the lives of the Acholi people? Haven’t enough Acholi people suffered in the violence between the LRA and the Ugandan government? Our alliance should not be with the U.S. government or the Ugandan military or the LRA, but the Acholi people. There is a Ugandan saying that goes, “The grass will always suffer when two elephants fight.” Isn’t it time we let the grass grow?

    Thank you.

    Sincerely,

    Amber Ha

     

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Posted on March 7, 2012, in Cultural Shenanigans and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Regarding their commercialisation of the conflict; it got me wondering. Am I correct in saying their merchandise is made by displaced Ugandans? If so, what are their terms and conditions like? What are they paid to make expensive bracelets? How many hours do they work etc.

  2. Porscha Smith

    @ Richie, I know for the bracelets and their MEND products, it is all fair wage, fair labor, fair trade. The workers spend half the day at the factory and the other half receiving training so they can eventually find better jobs and lead good, healthy, stable lives. It is all on the Invisible Children website.

  3. Benjamin Steinmeier

    Thank you, this is what I wanted to see: a primary source from someone who had actually been in the region and heard them directly and not secondary sources going off of what had apparently been heard. Now that I know you actually have a solid base for your argument, I can start to believe you. My one question is who is Amber Ha and how is she related with the North Ugandan people?

  4. This is just like DC, he said, she said, they said, yeah lets not get anything done, lets just argue. It is very difficult to know what to believe anymore. It is all just people’s opinions and different realities playing out. All I know is that things must get better for all oppressed people in the world, and if somebody wants to try and make a difference to better life on Planet Earth, then let them do it their way. Stop picking it all apart it makes people feel like WTF why bother, lets stay asleep, and if I am not mistaken, it is this attitude that has gotten us here.

    • But this campaign looks to make things worse. They may have the noblest intentions but it their actions that concern me as their actions look set to cause mayhem and suffering for hundreds of thousands of people.

    • “Stop picking it all apart” – yes, and let’s not draw attention to the fact that people are mistakenly donating to an organisation that is promoting the re-militarisation of a largely peaceful region.

      Moron.

  5. @Simon, yes you are so right, we have the RED CROSS for that. It is still just your opinion, and so is mine.

  6. Amber, this video is about one man’s promise to Jacob. He is doing everything that he knows and can do to help. Whether Kony has moved onto other countries is irrelevant because either way it addresses Kony and his capture, who clearly the international prosecutor is highly interested in capturing and convicting. The same way that they are interested in capturing Warlords from the Sudan genocide.

    You call him a digusting man for calling these children invisible, but I guarantee you if you ask these children who come from broken families who fear for their lives everyday, who have been displaced, they will tell you that they themselves feel invisible.

    How dare you slander someones campaign to at least try to make the world a better place. He figured out a way to raise awareness in a huge and moving way, and all you can do is try to find a way to reverse all the progress he has made in this fight. At the very least, the American people now know what is going on in Africe (most Americans have no idea what goes on in other countries).

    Children starve in Africa by the tens of thousands. Parents leave their children on the sides of roads because they don’t know what else to do; they know their children will die with them. I’m speaking about the Horn of Africa. There has been displacement, genocide, and torture for years. And guess what? You don’t see that on our news channels, do you? While we throw away millions of pounds of food every year, no one in America raises awareness to our carelessness. You know why the government really won’t stop these issues in Africa? Why the US really won’t do the right thing to help Africa? Because there are no valuable resources. There is no oil in these regions. There is nothing for us to gain, like there was in Iraq.

    Again, this all started with one man’s promise to another man. And I commend and respect Joseph for what he’s doing. He’s sure as hell kept a promise better than I ever have.

    Go to hell Amber. Learn how to be more dignified and respectable. Don’t just make a mockery and a joke out of someones compassion. He will make a difference, you won’t.

    P.S. I’m not going to check or be notified by comments on this. That wasn’t my purpose. I’m not here to debate, just to put in my two cents.

  7. Jessica Klinger

    I see many opinions but no sources

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