Almost anyone with a connection to Facebook in the last 48 hours has probably heard of this “Kony 2012” thing making the rounds of the Internet. But what exactly is it?
At the core, Kony 2012 is a propaganda meme spread by the Invisible Children political-activist group. Their 30 minute Youtube video has received well over 55 million views in just a few days. Now, if you watch the video you would be completely justified in feeling mortified and stupefied by the violence discussed therein – everyone ought to feel such things when aggression is used against the innocent. Nonetheless, you need to know what it is really about. As Shaun Connell has well noted:
Like many “youth” targeted movements these days, the focus of the video is extremely vague about what exactly social media “activists” are supposed to do, while making it seem incredibly romantic and important that the social media users have the ability to click the “share” button to help their organization become more famous. It’s a clever way to get users pumped up on powerful soundtracks and clips to click the share button. And it’s worked.
Don’t get me wrong, Joseph Kony has definitely caused a lot of suffering, although I think it is probably a stretch to call him the most evil man alive today as IC wants to imply. I can think of others who might deserve that title more. Even George W. Bush is indirectly responsible for far more deaths and more destruction than Kony could ever hope to accomplish. It is remarkable that we tend to forget such perspectives in the face of rock music and catch phrases.
Kony is ultimately a small fish in a large pond of African warlords, not extraordinarily different from the others. We have to look through the Invisible Children propaganda – they are just a publicity organization that wants to get money so they can lobby the government to start another violent conflict. Sure, it would be nice if Kony were not around anymore, but we should not point the U.S. government’s guns at U.S. citizens’ heads to extract the wealth and lives necessary to do it. Moreover, removing Kony will not do much good because somebody else will inevitably rise to take his place. Don’t think that the Ugandan government is an improvement either.
Africa is a mess, and another war is not going to help.
Non-interventionism is still the solution. We can do a lot better by allowing free passage of goods and people to let people escape and thwart their economic controls over the area. Missions of mercy that get the innocent out will accomplish far more than missions of war which will only result in more death, especially of the innocent. The United States should not police the world, as it has done little good in any continent where it has been tried. We cannot expect that the results will be better this time.
Yes, Kony is a bad guy. No, we shouldn’t get politically involved. We should never forget the deadly lessons of past interventions.
P.S. Shaun Connell has written an excellent piece on this Kony 2012, and I highly recommend you check it out.