A lot has been said already and I’ve waited intentionally to “jump on the bandwagon”.
It has never seemed right to me to do what everyone else is doing simply because they are doing it.
When I heard about the Kony 2012 video I had no idea who Joseph Kony is. When I saw how excited some people are about it my gut told me not to watch it for a first impression. The type of public reception the video has received has all the hallmarks of a successful viral video: inspirational background music, a message that purports the idea of being part of something bigger than myself, an appeal to ecumenical feelings of right and wrong (in this case, the affliction of children), and a vivid focus (I lost count of how many times Kony’s name was mentioned at 70. that was less than half way through the video). The kind that urges viewers to do something without thinking “repost”, “like” “+1”, “retweet”, or comment. Not that i’m saying the video is wrong or that Kony is a nice guy that is just misunderstood, but I have a personal aversion to doing things without thinking. This blog is about using your head, so let’s go on a mental adventure and mull over a few of the ideas surrounding the Kony 2012 campaign and the global events that brought it into being. So I set out to answer a few questions for myself: Who is he? What’s he doing? Should I be involved?
The CIA World Fact Book does not have any information posted on Joseph Kony (which typically means he’s a person of interest).
Amnesty International is calling for his arrest for several years.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has a Warrant of Arrest issued for Kony and his top commanders.
The one thing I find surprising in this case is that Kony, himself, has been so shy before the cameras. There are a handful of interviews out there and they all seem to begin the same way “in an undisclosed area of the Ugandan [or Congo] bush…” Obviously the man is hiding from the Ugandan government and is a world-wide criminal, but why shy from the cameras? Normally men like this can’t get enough of the cameras. They are egotistical and need the outlet of public communication to feed their desire to feel in control. One of the most popular Kony posters features shadows of Joseph Stalin and Osama Bin-Laden with Joseph Kony in the foreground. But Stalin and Bin-laden used the media to propagate their cause and control their followers while seems to Kony avoid it. This is to his disadvantage because it leaves us only with the view presented to us by the Ugandan government and a few unsubstantiated witnesses. The one interview I did appreciate was done by ABC (that’s the Australian Broadcasting Company, not the US network). In this interview Kony, himself claims that the rumors of rape and mutilations are propaganda used by the Ugandan government to silence him. While Jason Russel’s video claims that Kony “has no political ideals” and “seeks only to maintain power”, Kony identifies himself as a “freedom fighter, fighting for democracy in Uganda … against the dictatorship of Yoweri Museveni”.
Too quickly we forget that while the current president of Uganda claims to be the chief of a democratic state, he achieved that status by military means that relied heavily on the thousands of child soldiers that he kidnapped from rural villages and indoctrinated for his own purposes. His first governmental post was taken after a successful rebellion against Idi Amin in 1979. He achieved the status of Chairman or the Presidential Comission that same year by a de facto coup and used that position to run for the presidency. He lost the race and responded by going to war with the winning candidate. The result was the “war in the bush” that lasted 1981-1986 with Museveni in power. In a speech he declared that all resistance groups would be “smashed without mercy”. In March of 1989 Amnesty International published a report entitled Uganda, the Human Rights Record 1986–1989 which detailed the vast abuses of Museveni’s regime.
It seems that hunting down Kony without going after Museveni too is like worrying about a guard dog on a leash when there’s a guy with a shot gun standing right behind it. The violations of human rights in Uganda are heartbreaking, but in the grander scheme of things, catching, trying and sentencing Joseph Kony will not destroy the LRA. It will not stop the 1000 displaced victims of war from dying every day from disease and malnutrition. It will not stop the government from enlisting child fighters. To put it succinctly, Joseph Kony is not the problem, neither is Yoweri Museveni. Human nature is the problem. Unregenerate people will always rise to power at the abuse of others. That is the world of sin that we live in.