Friday, March 23, 2012

Stopping Kony

You guys have heard about this by now. There's a 30 minute video that dramatically states the terrible things Joseph Kony has done and the importance of stopping him this year. The campaign is called Kony 2012, and it has garnered a lot of excitement on the internet. I didn't have enough time to cynically complete a countdown to the nay-saying push back before it kicked in. Maybe I'm an optimist.

There are a lot of reasons people cite as to why we shouldn't worry about Joseph Kony:
The argument: Now that the fine citizens of Uganda aren't in danger, we can return to not caring.

The figure of 30,000 child soldiers isn't his current compliment, but his lifetime total; he is no longer a threat.
The argument: So he's already blown his virtual load of turning children into killers and sex slaves and isn't making any more child soldiers, or at least not enough to care about.

If we try to catch him, we'll have to kill some of his child soldiers, if we don't fail outright because it's too hard.
The argument: If bad people can put a single child between themselves and justice, it's "base" and if we try to approach that situation, then we're putting the child in danger and we're the bad guys. Military action is the only option and it won't work.

Obama already sent troops to help Uganda, so everything that can be done to stop him is already being done.
The argument: Military action is too complicated and dangerous and won't solve the problem, but Obama's already put military advisers over there so there's nothing more to be done. Problem solved. Actually, because Kony isn't in Uganda and is therefore nowhere and isn't a threat to anyone and there are military troops over there to solve the problem he doesn't pose which can't be solved with military force, triple solved.

White privilege is involved.
The argument: It's a widely believed fact that everyone in the developed world and on the internet is white; it's another case of people wealthy enough to help with money and political capital just trying to use that money and political capital to help others like a bunch of condescending bastards.

If you didn't care X months months ago, you're a hypocrite now.
The argument: You're being trendy--
I can't even sarcastically paraphrase this. If you were interested in Uganda before the Kony 2012 campaign and you have to tell people about it, then you're a hipster and I'll leave this whole thing in your hands because A) Hipsters never changed the world and B) Any time someone tells me that they cared about a social problem before it was popular deserves the most sarcastic congratulations available:

So, to all the world's overnight tenured professors of Uganda, Kony, and Invisible Children at the University of Hipsteria, Internet Campus, thanks for knowing about this in advance. Thanks for all of the effective activism that managed to fix this before it washed up on my social media and what's more, I'm proud that you don't need a few million people to help you out in any way. In fact, I'm impressed that instead of trying to co-opt this interest in any way, you've chosen to disseminate the message that the most visible organization on this issue is, in fact, the patron saint of excuses not to ever donate to aid organizations: the faux charity that takes in millions of dollars a year for its operators and only kicks a few hundred thousand dollars towards the people they help. In doing so, you've not only managed to keep the issue of Joseph Kony your own private domain--one which you've successfully tackled with strategies like "Something isn't always better than nothing" and "I don't know the best course of action"--but you've also managed to convince a wave tsunami of people who were interested in making the world just tiiiiiiiiiny bit better that they were wasting their time and were actually stupid. 

Again, genius because it also makes sure that the people who are already working on addressing problems in Syria, Afghanistan, Libya (yes, there's still work to do there), Bahrain, Maldives, and--fuck it--everywhere else will not at any point in the future have their toes stepped on and their crusades to slap spackle on this crapsack world trodden upon by the unwashed, trend-following, not-entirely-educated-but-still-eager-to-help-you-twats masses. Instead, those masses are going to say to themselves, "It's too complicated and it doesn't affect me any way" and continue watching Two and a Half Men and Valentines Day and generally not giving a fuck because you couldn't dismount from your high horse long enough to realize that when they came to the gates of Club Gives a Shit, you decided the world needed more scowling bouncers and fewer welcoming wagons. 



jowe said...

No one has been arguing that Kony isn't a very bad man that should be stopped. Most of the outrage against the video was that it was not only misleading, but strongly suggests people should immediately donate money to Invisible Children, which itself does not have a track record of doing good things. The outpouring against the video is meant as an urge for society to further educate themselves before wasting money on an organization that supplies the small fraction of its earnings it does not consume to keep itself afloat to a government that does the exact same things as Kony.

Complaining about people complaining accomplishes little and less than people on either side of the Kony2012 movement.

VanVelding said...

I'd debate where most of the outrage against the video is directed versus where most of the outrage against the video landed.

But my problem isn't what the people who don't like the video wanted to do, but what they did.