Slacktivism

I had not been very aware of what the situation was with the KONY 2012 campaign and now that it was brought up in class and since its something that I’m familiar with because of where I come from I’ve decided to post some thoughts on the subject.

There’s been some criticism on the movement ever since last year including an article from November on Foreign Affairs which you can read by clicking here. Resolve, one of the partner companies of Invisible Children, posted some rebuttals to these claims which are available here.

However, main reason that I came here was this post (might need a Facebook account to view) by one of the people behind Invisible Children. A couple of things that stood out to me:

-In regards to the article claiming that the charity spent over 32% of their financials on administration costs, something that wold be incredibly suspicious for a charity to do:

“This is a gross misrepresentation of how Invisible Chilren uses their financials.  Invisible Children’s financial statements are online for everyone to see.  Financial statements from the last 5 years, including our 990, are available at http://www.invisiblechildren.com/financials. The organization only spent 16.24% on administration and management costs in FY2011.”

Someone is pointing out in the comments that while the 16% figure is correct, they still have a HUGE amount of unspent revenue (financial statement available here) . If the money isn’t going to either Uganda or their administrative expenses then that should be an immediate red flag. Are they pocketing the money then? Why else would they they have so much excess revenue floating around? I think his rebuttal also kind of misses the point of the criticism by Foreign Affairs which is saying that the money should be spent more on actually helping people instead of raising more awareness.

– In regards to accusations of supporting African militia groups like the Ugandan army and Sudan People’s Liberation Army which have drawn heavy criticism for crimes against the people of their nation and even have the following picture posing with the latter:

“Not to put to a fine a point on this, but… BS. At least for the part where they claim Invisible Children supports the UPDF and SPLA. IC never have supported the UPDF or SPLA with money and they do not hide their obvious human rights abuses. The UPDF IS the best equipped group even though they do not operate in Uganda anymore. Anyone who argues otherwise does not understand how ineffective the SPLA (S. Sudan military), FACA (Central African Republic Military), and FARDC (Congolese military) are. 

IC does not defend any of the human rights abuses perpetrated by the Ugandan government or the Ugandan army. None of the money donated through Invisible Children ever goes to the government of Uganda.  Yet the only feasible and proper way to stop Kony and protect the civilians he targets is to coordinate efforts with regional governments.”

Even putting the picture of them aside, the “we don’t support them with money”  is pretty damning since their video heavily supports the notion that they are trying to to support them through their bills and troops they’ve been lobbying to send. To me, that sentence plus the very final one reek of  “We don’t like what they do but yes we support them through other means other than money”. How could anyone watch the video and not get the idea that the way to stop Kony was through helping armed forces (like the U.S army and the ones in the area) take him down?

And lastly, this was infuriating to me:  In response to the accusation that using military force to bring down Kony would involve shooting the very same people they are aiming to protect, children:

A very valid point. I would love to hear suggestions from the author on how they would stop Kony. The fact of the matter is that peace talks have failed six times and every time Kony uses the lull in fighting as a chance to rebuilding his forces and abduct and kill more people. So what is better? Another peace talk so this fight can drag on, or militarily ending this thing once and for all? Nobody wants  violent solution. We all prefer peace. But what happens when peace talks fail repeatedly? What happens whenpeace talks actually exacerbate  the problem?

Seriously? Just to make it clear, he is actually saying that even if it means shooting at children, the use of force is justified in order to bring down Kony. The whole “ends justifies the means” mentality is absolutely reprehensible and I cannot believe they would be willing to contradict like that what the message of their campaign is supposed to be about.

– J.P

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