There is no doubt that Joseph Kony is a horribly cruel man. If you are on facebook or twitter, you have surely seen by now a lot of your friends becoming so called “activists” after watching a YouTube video about “Kony 2012″ and the Invisible Children organization. Even Rihanna has announced that she will be helping to “fight the cause” by supporting the organization and helping them put together a new video.
What’s disturbing about all of this is that nobody is fact checking or doing any research on the subject – they are simply buying into everything the video preaches without knowing anything else about the topic! The situation is much more complex than the video alludes to and the organization itself is very shady at best. Check out information on the issue and organization that we put together below:
THE QUICK RUNDOWN
-The LRA is only 250 soldiers strong at this point.
-The LRA hasn’t been in Uganda since 2006.
-Ugandan army and Sudan People’s Liberation Army are riddled with accusations of rape and looting.
-US Africa Command has been trying to stop Kony for years, which only results in failure and retaliation from Kony.
-To get to Kony you’d have to ultimately kill some of his army…which consists of children soldiers…..
-Only 32% of money raised went to direct services (if you support the issue you may want to choose a more worthwhile charity).
-Their accountability and transparency is a 2 out of 4 stars on charity navigator.
-The group is in favor of direct military intervention, and their money supports the Ugandan government’s army and various other military forces.
– Foreign Affairs has claimed that Invisible Children (among others) “manipulates facts for strategic purposes, exaggerating the scale of LRA abductions and murders and emphasizing the LRA’s use of innocent children as soldiers, and portraying Kony — a brutal man, to be sure — as uniquely awful, a Kurtz-like embodiment of evil.”
Military intervention may or may not be the right idea, but people supporting KONY 2012 probably don’t realize they’re supporting the Ugandan military who are themselves raping and looting away. Educate yourselves a little bit before supporting a particular nonprofit.
The organization behind Kony 2012 — Invisible Children Inc. — is an extremely shady nonprofit that has been called “misleading,” “naive,” and “dangerous” by a Yale political science professor, and has been accused by Foreign Affairs of “manipulat[ing]facts for strategic purposes.” They have also been criticized by the Better Business Bureau for refusing to provide information necessary to determine if IC meets the Bureau’s standards.
Additionally, IC has a low two-star rating in accountability from Charity Navigator because they won’t let their financials be independently audited. That’s not a good thing. In fact, it’s a very bad thing, and should make you immediately pause and reflect on where the money you’re sending them is going.
By IC’s own admission, only 31% of all the funds they receive go toward actually helping anyone [pdf]. The rest go to line the pockets of the three people in charge of the organization, to pay for their travel expenses (over $1 million in the last year alone) and to fund their filmmaking business (also over a million) — which is quite an effective way to make more money, as clearly illustrated by the fact that so many can’t seem to stop forwarding their well-engineered emotional blackmail to everyone they’ve ever known.
And as far as what they do with that money:
The group is in favor of direct military intervention, and their money supports the Ugandan government’s army and various other military forces. At the top of this article is a photo of the founders of Invisible Children posing with weapons and personnel of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army. Both the Ugandan army and Sudan People’s Liberation Army are riddled with accusations of rape and looting, but Invisible Children defends them, arguing that the Ugandan army is “better equipped than that of any of the other affected countries”, although Kony is no longer active in Uganda and hasn’t been since 2006 by their own admission. These books each refer to the rape and sexual assault that are perennial issues with the UPDF, the military group Invisible Children is defending.
Let’s not get our lines crossed: The Lord’s Resistance Army is bad news. And Joseph Kony is a very bad man, and needs to be stopped. But propping up Uganda’s decades-old dictatorship and its military arm, which has been accused by the UN of committing unspeakable atrocities and itself facilitated the recruitment of child soldiers, is not the way to go about it.
The United States is already plenty involved in helping rout Kony and his band of psycho sycophants. Kony is on the run, having been pushed out of Uganda, and it’s likely he will soon be caught, if he isn’t already dead. But killing Kony won’t fix anything, just as killing Osama bin Laden didn’t end terrorism. The LRA might collapse, but, as Foreign Affairs points out, it is “a relatively small player in all of this — as much a symptom as a cause of the endemic violence.”
Myopically placing the blame for all of central Africa’s woes on Kony — even as a starting point — will only imperil many more people than are already in danger.
Sending money to a nonprofit that wants to muck things up by dousing the flames with fuel is not helping. Want to help? Really want to help? Send your money to nonprofits that are putting more than 31% toward rebuilding the region’s medical and educational infrastructure, so that former child soldiers have something worth coming home to.
The bottom line is, research your causes thoroughly. Don’t just forward a random video to a stranger because a mass murderer makes a five-year-old “sad.” Learn a little bit about the complexities of the region’s ongoing strife before advocating for direct military intervention.
There is no black and white in the world. And going about solving important problems like there is just serves to make all those equally troubling shades of gray invisible.
Not saying Kony isn’t a horrible person. Just thought people might want the entire picture before they support an organization that is shady at best.