Around the Margin – Kony 2012

Brought to you by: Across the Margin

The only way that you may have avoided the recent online campaign by a group called Invisible Children is if you are living well under a rock. Their ‘KONY 2012’ campaign is making waves, which is possibly an amazing thing as the movement aims to end the hideous acts of Joseph Kony and the LRA (“The Lord’s Resistance Army”) in Northern Africa. The Video released by Invisible Children is upsetting, and also inspiring. It also caused a stir and there is a great deal of backlash on blogs as of late, so much that Invisible Children immediately responded to accusations made.

With such controversy over what could be an incredibly important movement a couple of the voices of Across the Margin convened to set the record straight….or try to….

MCS: I’m sure your up on both sides of this. I personally was taken back at the amount of backlash present against a cause such as this, and still am, but it is so crucial to look at all issues, even humanitarian causes, from all angles.

Rau: I think that while the cause itself is 100% just, and the amount of awareness created by having 30 million people learn about it in a day is amazing, there are a lot of issues at play that definitely need to be looked at closer. In the end I think it’s great. But I definitely have some issues.

MCS: 30 million in one day blew my mind.

Rau: From what I understand the US army has made numerous attempts to kill Kony. I think going after Kony with an army, first and foremost, puts the people you are trying to save directly in harms way as by attacking Kony you are going to have to kill lots of child soldiers and I think, like the war on terror, violence isn’t really the solution, and can potentially cause more problems. I think if you just kill Kony. You get another Kony.

MCS: I think it is being misconstrued that ‘Kony 2012’ is just going after Joseph Kony himself, but when you read everything that they themselves write it’s apparent their goal is to take down the LRA. They are, of course, putting a face to the LRA and using one man to publicize the cause. But I don’t think anyone is naive enough to believe that when Kony is captured the problems in Northern and Central Africa are fixed.

MCS: I find it unsettling, to put it mildly, to think that children may be harmed in the apprehension of Kony but I do not see that, as insensitive as it may sound, as a reason to not pursue him. Many more lives will be lost if the LRA, diminished as it may be, continues to exist.

Rau: I don’t think it’s a reason to not pursue him. But I think everyone in American demanding that we send in our army immediately to stop the gross injustices are not seeing the big picture fully. Going down that road is something we have tried to do already, and definitely is not something we should rush into like many of our other most recent, and largely unsuccessful, wars. I also think that the larger issue here is children being used as soldiers. It’s not like this is new to Uganda. In Somalia since 2004 apparently between 200,000 and 300,000 kids have been used. I guess my point is that for the present time there are a lot of places in the world where there are going to be ugly wars and the people who fight these wars are going to continue fighting them regardless of who we kill. We do need to change those guerilla leaders minds about being willing to sacrifice children, not just continually take out leaders. And I do think that IC probably grasps this concept but they didn’t do a very good job showing it in the video and that westerners who see the video don’t often think an issue through on all sides and will now just demand blood. And that is potentially a problem.

MCS: The biggest problem I see, which you alluded to, is that the entire campaign simplifies a much more complicated situation by just talking aim at Joseph Kony and the LRA. But putting Joseph Kony in the cross hairs and getting his name out there is not a bad place to start. I, after much thought about the whole thing, cannot…at all…. find any fault at all in raising awareness and pointing out the fact that an atrocious war criminal is still at large.

Rau: I know you saw the photo of the IC guys posing with the SPLA (supposed good guys) and their guns at a location where Kony was supposed to show up to sign a peace treaty a few years ago.

MCS: I think they explain themselves pretty well in their response. It seems a little too easy, too convenient, to take one photo and then tell the story you want to tell from that photo. They shouldn’t have taken that photo. They should have been smarter than that. But I’m not sure that makes them raging bloodthirsty militants.

Rau: It was a stupid thing to do given their profile, but we’ve all seen stupider, and given some of the shit that we have seen our army do (which are frankly embarrassing to our whole country) it isn’t that big of a deal. Very shortsighted. I read an interview with the photographer who basically hates these people and was a fairly interesting read.

MCS: Would love to read that.

Rau: I got you, and the reader, covered. Here

MCS: Thank you.

MCS: I have taken the time to read the most actively circulated blog posts belittling the Kony 2012 movement, and there are some solid points, but there is a whole lot of moot, or flat out wrong, points and triviality. The one written by a Political Science Student in Nova Scotia is getting a lot of play. But it looks like even he is changing his tune following Invisible Children’s response declaring:

“Please read and share Invisible Children’s response (to his blog). This is precisely the sort of information I was hoping they would be more up front with. Please read this – it’s great that IC is providing this resource (of full transparency)”

MCS: And I am not sure about the ‘Visible Children’ Tumblr as a whole. Even with new information that allows us to see IC in a clearer light he has adjusted his blog to keep his most controversial piece, the piece now known to be, at minimum, marginally in-factual, and the piece that causes the most hoopla -at the top of the page…always….with more factual and current information below it.

Rau: I think some of the backlash might be other people and organizations feel like they do a better job, were there first, are better critical thinkers, etc, etc – and are upset that IC now has 50 million views on a video they made. And some of that may be true. It doesn’t change the fact that people now know about it. It’s what we do now as a whole that is important.

MCS: That is the most important part. IC does say that their goal at the end of the day is to “inspire Western youth to do more than just watch.” Well we have certainly watched…..now what?

Rau: I’m torn on the ‘Visible Children’ tumblr.

MCS: I am not. How people can use this kids blog as proof that something is wrong with IC is beyond me, and irresponsible on their part. He admittedly is: “ a second-year Political Science student, not an expert, and the audience for this post was originally a group of approximately 30 friends whom it was emailed to originally. It has now received well over a million hits in less than 24 hours. This was not my intent.” He seems to be well over his head.

Rau: True, but he admits that readily, and today’s says he turned down all offers for press interviews because it’s frivolous for him to be involved. I think that is great and very precocious of the young man. The fact that 2 million of 30 million people want to look at the issues more closely is even more inspiring.

MCS: Damn right it is. But you also have to look elsewhere. ‘Visible Children’ does not have the information you need.

Rau: Sure, but if it questions us to think that’s as important as fact in many ways. Once again, his blog post today was refreshing. I think it would be even cooler if 2.2 million people took the time to read the links he posts as credible sources.

MCS: His blog post today was fantastic. But it clarifies he is not a source. But good on him for making people think and challenging what he thought to be wrong. But the enemy isn’t a group that is trying to publicize to the world a real problem (no matter what their personal motives are, financial or otherwise).

Rau: What did you think of the video itself?

MCS: I have some problems with the video, the conversation with his child being number one. It is tough to swallow some of the top- down gung-ho-let’s save the world- feel of the video. But I was moved, and that is the point. And I am super glad the video was made, even if I may have done it different.

Rau: I see eye to eye with that. My biggest problem was definitely the inclusion of them so much in the video. It had the ‘look what I’m doing!’ vibe to it…but, again, I’m with you, awareness.

Rau: How does this all play out?

MCS: Such a loaded question. With Joseph fucking Kony’s head on a stick. That’s how.

MCS: I kid, when I shouldn’t. I, of course, don’t know. I worry that the video that got so many hits and prompted so many people to do the most simplest thing to do, share the video, will be a distant memory soon enough. But I hope also, that increased awareness leads to increased pressure to begin to dissect and find ways to solve problems like in Africa and around the world. That’s a whole lot to hope for I know.

MCS: And I got a question for you: Will you be covering the night on 4/20/2012?

Rau: Nah. I’ll prolly just be smoking weed in my living room.

Rau: Just kidding. I’m glad I have a month to think about it.

MCS: I am one of “those” who bought action kit so I am armed and ready with posters and such. I will be overseas at the time so I am curious to see how widespread this is. But I guess until then I will continue to educate myself, and if I feel that hitting the streets in the wee hours of the 20th will make a difference I am down….I have always been a creature of the night anyways.

Rau: It’s hard to think such a good cause becomes a cause only because people in the west are profiting off of it.

MCS: I really believe this: Even if Invisible Children were actually taking every single red cent donated to the cause and made from the action kits I would not have a problem with them in the least bit if the awareness of the situation that has sparked from their films and actions, and the political pressure they have are responsible for, actually caused something to be done to slow the LRA, to arrest Joseph Kony, and to save the lives of children. In fact, I would call these filmakaers/activits heroes. Even in this case. Yes, heroes. And they would deserve every dime they lined their pocket with.

Rau: Ohhhh….I agree with the fact that if they took every penny the awareness created would probably still be worth more than the money they would be stealing. But I myself can’t call them heroes. People have been trying to stop this kind of shit for along time. They just were smart enough to make a video and blow that shit up on facebook. I think there are so many heroes involved that have lost their lives in this fight that we will never ever hear of but I do agree that their hearts are in the right place. And they deserve credit for bringing the issue to the forefront.

MCS: No doubt.

Rau: On a lighter note, I’m also really glad this happened after Linsanity. The world isn’t big enough for all of this.

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