The Kony Dilemma
Tufts University was recently the receiver of the quickest spreading viral video out there: the Kony 2012 campaign. If you have yet to see this video, then you are not one of the 80 million people who have been Facebook-ed, email-ed, or Twitter-ed with the incessant urge to “help defeat this monster” or “educate yourself.”
Joseph Kony is the head of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a Ugandan guerrilla military group that, among other atrocities, captures and enslaves children for their purposes. As a general rule, I do not support the captivity of any persons, let alone children. I am all for raising awareness on issues and fighting bad people (if you agree with Kony’s policies then there is obviously something wrong with your head). Invisible Children, the organization that has been on the anti-LRA bus since 2004, has helped shed the light of these horrors to otherwise unknowing Americans. It is true that the average citizen here fails to recognize the goings-on in third-world nations, and an organization like Invisible Children has every right to bring the truth to the surface.
My issue with the Kony 2012 movement lies in its ravenous call to destroy Kony, an artificial figurehead made out to represent all that is evil and wrong with guerrilla warfare in Africa. He is the leader of a local horror, but the fact of the matter is that child soldiers have been a problem in the world–especially in Africa–for a much longer time than Kony’s reign. It is an existing problem that killing or jailing Joseph Kony will far from solve. Where the Invisible Children program succeeds in spreading knowledge, it fails to understand the omnipresence of of the issue at hand. For example, the current government itself, the one that Kony and his minions are attempting to overthrow, utilized children as resource to ravage the country in war and gain power just as greedily as Kony has been.
At Tufts, the half-hour video that Invisible Children has released has made its rounds to almost every Facebook group and social medium. The unavoidable conclusion, from a realistic point of view, is that these students who are begging to “fight injustice in Uganda” have been caught up in a craze and will undoubtedly take up the next popular outrage. It is a sad truth, one I wish would change. But selectively calling out one individual to make him the scapegoat for a worldwide atrocity is not fair or realistic to the public. Actively removing Kony from power IS essential, and I support any United Nations decision that will lead to his demise. But for anyone out there who believes that such an act will resolve child soldiery within Uganda, let alone the world, are sadly mistaken.
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