The roughly 30-minute Invisible Children video has now made its rounds, attracting a horde of seemingly well-intentioned individuals who are intent on making Joseph Kony, the leader of the brutal Lord’s Resistance Army of Uganda, “famous” in order to raise awareness and support for his arrest. There has been an overwhelming rush of support for the Invisible Children campaign to capture Kony and in contrast there is now a growing tide of disdain aimed at what many are arguing is a clear-cut attempt by Invisible Children to exploit the East African Republic of Uganda and its inhabitants.
Those who are rallying behind the latest Invisible Children video, as they have released 11 over-all, are angrily parading the contention that they are “aware” as a result of Invisible Children, that the sixty-million plus who have now watched the KONY 2012 video are also “aware” and the nagging attacks by opposing voices are unnecessary, often labeling critics as being callous; after all, how dare they undermine such a moving, tear-jerking campaign to detain such an evil, brutish man?
Complex Dynamics and History Of Exploitation Ignored
The complex dynamics surrounding Uganda and the Lord’s Resistance Army have been trivialized by Invisible Children in order to make the Kony 2012 drive more marketable to Western audiences and an assortment of faux-Facebook-humanitarians.
Chris Blattman, a political scientist at Yale, on the topic of the Invisible Children’s programming, writes that “there’s something inherently misleading, naive, maybe even dangerous, about the idea of rescuing children or saving of Africa. It’s often not an accidental choice of words, even if it’s unwitting. It hints uncomfortably of the White Man’s Burden. Worse, sometimes it does more than hint. The savior attitude is pervasive in advocacy, and it inevitably shapes programming. Usually misconceived programming. The saving attitude pervades too many aid failures, not to mention military interventions.”
Foreign military intervention is an advocacy point of Invisible Children’s campaign for Uganda, they gave gone as far as to mobilize behind “The Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009“, lobbying on multiple occasions, especially in 2009 and 2010, which led to the passage of the act, signed into law by the Obama administration May 24, 2010:
“Today, I signed into law the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009. The legislation crystallizes the commitment of the United States to help bring an end to the brutality and destruction that have been a hallmark of the LRA across several countries for two decades, and to pursue a future of greater security and hope for the people of central Africa.”
This LRA Disarmament, Northern Uganda Recovery Act includes, amongst other requirements, “an interagency framework to plan, coordinate, and review diplomatic, economic, intelligence, and military elements of United States policy across the region regarding the Lord’s Resistance Army.” The United States of America has long been active militarily in Africa, though one suspects that the parade of “aware” Justin Beiber fans and the like have never heard of AFRICOM, The United States Africa Command, which is one of nine Unified Combatant Commands of the United States Armed Forces “established to provide effective command and control of U.S. military forces, regardless of branch of service, in peace and war” devoted entirely to Africa. AFRICOM has worked under the guise of self-less humanitarianism in order to impose American dominance over the continent which “locks Africa into a state of dependency and maintains favorable political and social conditions for U.S.-based corporations that exploit Africa’s natural resources” writes Mark P. Fancher of Black Agenda Report.
Not only do the masterminds behind Invisible Children call for direct US military involvement in Uganda, they openly call for cooperation with the Ugandan military:
“The Ugandan government’s army, the UPDF, is more organized and better equipped than that of any of the other affected countries (DRC, South Sudan, CAR) to track down Joseph Kony. Part of the US strategy to stop Kony is to encourage cooperation between the governments and armies of the 4 LRA-affected countries. The LRA was active in Uganda for nearly 20 years, displacing 1.7 million people and abducting at least 30,000 children. The people and government of Uganda have a vested interested in seeing him stopped.”
In the viral KONY 2012 video the name Yoweri Museveni is not mentioned a single time by the narrarator and Invisible Children Inc. co-founder Jason Russell; Museveni, who has been the President of the Republic of Uganda for some 26 years, is absolved from the narrative and his own laundry-list of crimes white-washed by Invisible Children’s call for out-right collaboration with the Ugandan government.
In some 30-minutes nearly three decades of Northern Ugandan history has been purposely avoided. Those who take pride in suddenly being “aware” are not remotely conscious; this mirrors the attitudes displayed by those determined to support the US pursuit of “liberating” Iraq and how brazenly unaware they were of Iraqi history and culture.
Good Intentions Corrupted
The old aphorism that ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions‘ rings true in the case of the Invisible Children campaign, who are now accompanied by a braying community who have “good intentions” to fall back on in the face of this growing debate; in the name of altruism many are simply shrugging off the historical exploitation of Africa, exploitation often committed under the guise of humanitarianism and in the name of social consciousnesses.
United Nations sanctions put in place in the 1990′s killed nearly half a million Iraqi children under the age of 5, according to the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The road leading towards the butchery in Baghdad was also paved with “good intentions” as were a plethora of other US humanitarian military ventures.
Ugandan Voices Must Be Heard
The people of Uganda are not ‘helpless’ to the extent Invisible Children, and other not-for-profit organizations, would like to propagate to their privileged audience in order to promote the White savior complex; Ugandan bloggers, writers, academics etc. are increasingly aware of the KONY 2012 campaign and have begun to respond, highlighting local efforts aimed at capturing Kony and dismantling the LRA.
Making Suffering Fashionable
Invisible Children trivializes the complex dynamics of Uganda and Africa as a whole and actively promotes policy’s that could very well create more damage, just as we have seen with other military “humanitarian” adventurism in the region.
The suffering of millions of human beings has once again been over-simplified and made into an ready-to-wear wrist-band; a fashionable statement of cheap solidarity worn by those not even remotely informed. The idea that buy purchasing a $30 “kit”, including a fire-red piece of plastic to be worn around your wrist, you will be creating an atmosphere ripe enough for you to ‘inform’ others is as preposterous as it is laughable. It is simply feel-good marketing, but I’m sure it may very well go great with a nice pair of black shoes and blue-jeans.
Foreign Militarism, Foreign Philanthropy
The entire Middle East and Africa have been victims of philanthropic militarism, yet historical colonial pursuits in the region are being actively ignored by those backing Invisible Children; it is a region aglow with natural resources, all of which have been pillaged a thousand times over, a region put into debt, crippled with sanctions, burned and rebuilt a number times over.
Yet these undeniable historical facts are of no matter because this time it is different, as it was the trillion times humanitarians armies came to ‘liberate’ and ‘free’ the coloured peoples of the world with their self-less gun-toting charity, their glorious benevolence emitted from tanks, raining down from F-16′s and UAV drones. The people of Africa, long subjugated by foreign armies, will now be freed from bondage by the same foreign entities who oppressed them according to the mainstream Hollywood-esque narrative where the natives are seemingly always ‘liberated’ by the pompous yet oh-so-caring white savior.
Biting sarcasm aside, it is time to question Invisible Children and those with “good intentions”; it is time to become truly informed about the visible people of the world and the imperialistic endeavors of those intent on ‘saving’ them.