Thursday, March 15, 2012

Activist organization misrepresents campaign

By Thomas Haines, Opinion Columnist

If you have spent a little time online, you have probably seen or heard about the KONY 2012 video, a film produced by the Invisible Children organization.

The film’s purpose, according to the organization, is to promote the charity’s “Stop Kony” movement to make indicted Ugandan war criminal Joseph Kony internationally known. The hope is that this will help lead to Kony’s arrest in 2012.

In an interview with The Today Show March 9, one of the organization’s founders said the video had brought in more than $15 million in revenue that week.

I do not doubt those involved in KONY 2012 have great intentions, nor do I doubt Joseph Kony is an evil man. However, I am opposed to the KONY 2012 campaign.

Last year, Invisible Children spent more than $8 million, but only 32 percent of that went to direct services, with much of the rest going to staff salaries, travel, transport and film production.

This is far from ideal for an issue that requires action and aid, not awareness.

Invisible Children is in favor of direct military intervention and the organization’s dollars support the Ugandan government’s army and other military forces.

Both the Ugandan army and Sudan People’s Liberation Army have been accused of rape and looting, but Invisible Children defends the Ugandan army, arguing that it is “better equipped than that of any of the other affected countries,” even though Kony is hasn’t been active in Uganda since2006.

I agree that Kony is a bad man. However, he’s been around for a while, which is why the U.S. has been involved in trying to stop him and capture and kill him for years. Missions to this end have failed on numerous occasions, each provoking a ferocious response and increased retaliating slaughters.

The main issue with trying to take out a man who uses a child army is that his bodyguards are children. Any effort to capture or kill him will almost certainly result in the deaths of many children.

Each attempt brings more retaliation. Yet Invisible Children supports military intervention. While Kony has been involved in unsuccessful peace talks in the past, Invisible Children is now focusing on military intervention.

It is good that this organization has tried to bring awareness to a horrible situation, Invisible Children must realize that these problems are highly complex.

Awareness is not enough.

Thomas Haines is a junior at Pacific Lutheran University studying history. He is the vice president of the PLU Democrats and secretary for the PLU Secular Student Alliance.