Thursday, March 08, 2012
In Defense of STOP KONY 2012
Recently I've become a part of a global movement called STOP KONY 2012. I'd love you to learn about it, watch the video and join the movement. But, today's blog post is a response to the criticism of the movement.
While the Invisible Children organization has made and official response, which I link to below, here’s my not-so-humble response:
While I can appreciate what this blogger has to say, the truth, when you really get down to the bare facts are, that we - and other countries - have stood by while horrific regimes of rebels and governments have enslaved, mutilated and murdered their people. Like the Kony 2012 documentarians and the Invisible Children organization, I have become fed-up with the inaction of our government and other well-meaning humanitarian groups. While we sit back and wait for someone to come up with a perfect plan - a “clean” way to rid this world of such atrocious evil - the same evil we all agree needs to stop - continues to steal, rape and mutilate innocent children and kill their parents. This is not an issue new to me just in the past three days since the launch of the KONY 2012 campaign. This is not a sudden occurrence, it's just a campaign that has recently launched. We've waited around long enough for the non-existent "perfect plan" while thousands of men, women and children have been brutally victimized.
I absolutely agree that it is critical to investigate a group or a cause before jumping both feet onto a bandwagon. But while it is irresponsible to blindly forward campaign propaganda (like from the KONY 2012 folks), it is also ill-advised to simply Google the cause and forward the negative opinion of the first few bloggers that come up. Every cause will have its opponents - and it’s critical that they do. It’s important to call into question the motives and actions of any groups seeking support. I have seen this link (above) and links to other blogs where the same verbiage - almost exactly verbatim - has been posted. There are a few people out there who have basically sought to undermine this cause - and they are gaining momentum.
The Invisible Children organization may not be perfect and may not have the perfect plan, but they are motivating an entire world and putting the face of evil in front of the people of the world in a way that no one has before. Yes, they spend a large portion of their money on travel and film costs - they are documentary filmmaker - that's what they do and they don't hide that. They do not claim to be a relief organization.
What is a reasonable marketing budget for a campaign that has reached millions of people across diverse geographic, political, age and economic lines? For instance, their entire budget is dwarfed by the political budgets of any presidential candidate, who consider a campaigns successful if they manage to motivate a mere 20% of the US registered to voters.
The Invisible Children organization revenue from 2011 was just under half of what Mitt Romney and the Super Pacs supporting him have already spent on his campaign. Both of these are marketing campaigns, and one has had a mammoth impact globally in just three days. I can't see how that's an unreasonable expenditure.
An additional criticism has been that their tactics are to work with the Ugandan Military, which is, itself, wrought with accusations of gross human rights violations. It was not the Invisible Children organization, but rather, President Barack Obama who deployed combat-equipped team of U.S. military personnel to Uganda with the express purpose to, “act as advisors to partner forces that have the goal of removing from the battlefield Joseph Kony and other senior leadership of the LRA.” according to the October 14, 2011 letter he issued to the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
I think it’s important to continue to look at the KONY 2012 campaign and make certain that they are not found to be acting in unethical and illegal manners. I think it’s important to continue to dialog about this movement. But I’m not willing to throw out the whole campaign because some professor wrote a blog post and says that they spend a lot of money doing exactly what they say they do, rather than what he wishes they did. The KONY 2012 goal, as stated on in their official response to criticism is:
Invisible Children, in its statement, clarifies that the groups has a three-pronged mission:
1. Document and make the world aware of the LRA. This includes making documentary films and touring these films around the world so that they are seen for free by millions of people.
2. Channeling the energy and awareness from informed viewers of IC films into large scale advocacy campaigns that have mobilized the international community to stop the LRA and protect civilians.
3. Operate programs on the ground in the LRA-affected areas to provide protection, rehabilitation and development assistance.
So, after my thorough and ongoing research, I have personally decided that unless evidence changes, I fully support the Invisible Children organization in its efforts to STOP KONY 2012, because I think that the time for politics and bickering is over and it’s time for the people of the world to call for the end to this atrocity... and then move right on to the next atrocity, until the children of the world can sleep safely without the constant terror of abduction and enslavement.
Click Here to read the Invisible Children Official Response to Criticism
Click Here for the Letter from President Barack Obama to the House of Representatives