Twitter and Facebook feeds were flooded this week with posts involving a new documentary exposing the crimes that Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda have committed against children. But before you “Stop Kony,” you might want to stop yourself.
Joseph Kony is the head of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) centered in Uganda. This army uses force in their campaign to establish a theocratic government based on the Ten Commandments. The LRA has captured more than 60,000 children and forced them to fight for them. In 2005 the International Criminal Court (ICC) indicted Kony for 33 crimes: 12 war crimes and 21 crimes against humanity, including murder, rape and enslavement. However since his indictment he has evaded his capture.
Invisible Children is an organization that seeks to end the enslavement of child soldiers in Africa. Two weeks ago Invisible Children released a 30 minute documentary (video below) outlining what Kony and the LRA have done in Africa. This video went viral within days; it now has 10 million views on Vimeo alone. Teens all across social media sites have liked “Stop Kony 2012” pages, signed petitions, created events in protest and more. Kony’s actions are inconceivable at best, and action should be taken against him.
However, the action being taken by teens around the world is not the right kind of action.
Is it right that one day many may be faced with the news that they were responsible for the hunting down and killing of this man? The documentary seen by millions of teens neglects to state that thousands of, if not more deaths may result if we use further resources to seek Kony. The documentary also does not state that last thing Africa needs is more violence in an already war-stricken continent. Everyone just wants to nail the bad guy. But wanting do to so without realizing the reality of the situation is just ignorant. This situation requires a meticulous diplomatic resolution.
Many teens advocate for “Stop Kony 2012,” but would they be able to find Uganda on a map?
“The idea that popular opinion can be leveraged with viral marketing to induce foreign military intervention is really, really dangerous,” says a Ph.D. student Jack McDonald from King’s College in London. It is known all too well that social media can bring about significant and violent change in volatile regions (i.e. Arab Spring). Moreover, everyone knows how fast events, memes, protests or ideas can spread on social media. Social media brings out an immediate visceral response, not necessarily an educated one. People need to think before they “like.”
The advocates at Invisible Children are manipulating kids to service their own agenda. Gaining extra sympathy from kids for kids. It is not a question whether Kony should be dragged to the ICC. However, do you believe the youth’s response to Kony’s crimes is appropriate?
Photo Credit: dosomething.org