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Mar 10

White Man Carries His New Burden in #Kony Tote Bag

If you’re online, you’ve probably heard about this Kony character and the campaign by Invisible Children to stop him. Their campaign is obnoxious. At best, it’s an ineffective and dangerous product of white privilege. At worst, its little more than a cynical profit grab that panders to racism.

Here’s a little known fact about Africa: It doesn’t need you to save it and it’s not your fucking laboratory. So before you start talking about kickstarting armies and whatnot, take a deep breath.

Can you guess which three of these men founded Invisible Children?

You have no business running around other people’s countries with guns and you have no business raising money so that they might do the same. Unless that is your business. In which case, you are the problem.

Kony is an evil man. The world is teeming with evil men.

But this?

This is obscene.

Hard as it might be to believe, the world’s problems will not be solved by T-Shirts, buttons, bracelets and action guides. A measured reading of history would probably indicate that, more often than not, these things create problems.

Especially when they promote boots on the ground.

Foreign boots. On ground they don’t know about, don’t care about and don’t have to live on once the fad passes.

From the white man’s burden of colonization, to Belgians putting Tutsis in charge of Hutus based on the most recent “racial sciences” to the devastating effect that charities have on economies, many of Africa’s problems were and are caused by white people thinking they’re doing good.

This instinct has been used and abused by people who suffered from no such illusions. By people out to make a buck.

And all of that is to ignore that quite a bit of Africa is doing quite well and that it is an incredibly rich continent. The African people are not “half-devil, half-child.” They do not require our help. If anything, they just require us to stop looting them while saying it’s for their own good.

But, I didn’t mean to go off on a tirade here. Better informed people than I have written on this subject. I just wanted to let you know where I stand and to share a couple of relevant links.

They are below.

A Peace of my mind: Respect my agency 2012!

It is a slap in the face to so many of us who want to rise from the ashes of our tumultuous past and the noose of benevolent, paternalistic, aid-driven development memes. We, Africans, are sandwiched between our historically factual imperfections and well-intentioned, road-to-hell-building-do-gooders. It is a suffocating state of existence. To be properly heard, we must ride the coattails of self-righteous idiocy train. Even then, we have to fight for our voices to be respected.

 

On Invisible Children’s Kony 2012 Campaign

My main concern is that Gulu – and Uganda – has gone through some incredible changes. The economy is booming. The region is re-stabilizing. While Kony’s men continue to kill, rape and slaughter elsewhere, Gulu is not a static, unchanging place. Neither is Uganda, neither is the continent. Portraying a region like Gulu as such, and sending the mass message that the whole continent reflects this, is damaging. It undermines possibilities of investment. It clouds story of entrepreneurship, success and innovation. This goes hand in hand with saying “I work in Africa.” Lumping the continent as one messy area.

 

You Don’t Have My Vote

This approach obviously denies realities on the ground, inflates fantasies abroad, and strips Ugandans of their agency, dignity and humanity- the complexity of their story and history. The work, consequence, and impact are all focused on Uganda, but the agency, accountability, and resources lie among young American students. Clearly a dangerous imbalance of power and influence; one that can have adverse lasting effects on how and what people know of Uganda. It reduces the story of Northern Uganda, and perhaps even all of Uganda, into the dreaded single narrative of need and war, followed by western resolve and rescue. As we have seen from the past, without nuance and context, these stories stick in the collective memory of everyday people for years in their simplest forms: Uganda becomes wretched war. Whatever good IC may advance in raising more awareness on the issue or even contributing to the capture of Joseph Kony, it can never do enough to erase this unintended (I hope) impact.

Worst Idea Ever?

First, organizations like Invisible Children not only take up resources that could be used to fund more intelligent advocacy, they take up rhetorical space that could be used todevelop more intelligent advocacy. And yeah, this may seem like an absurdly academic point to raise when talking about a problem that is clearly crying out for pragmatic solutions, but, uh, the way we define problems is important. Really, really important. Choosing to simplistically define Congolese women as “The Raped” and Ugandan children as “The Abducted” constrains our ability to think creatively about the problems they face, and work with them to combat these problems.

Second, treating their problems as one-dimensional issues that can be solved by a handful of plucky college students armed only with the strength of their convictions and a video camera doesn’t help anyone.

 

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  1. Craig

    You write powerfully, using well honed skills at making a point. As you do this, you also come across as being tied inexorably to a solidly placed position rooted in the authorized version of the historical timeline we have received. Try not to hold on quite so tightly to such soils, as they may just be getting washed away as we speak by what the future is bringing.

    The Kony 2012 issue is more the potential for change by way of social networking than it is flawed with the social paradigms that have created the mess it is addressing. Wait, watch, and see what comes of it. If it flops, it flops. Oh well. I think, though, that what we are witnessing is a phenomenon that has good potential for moving us all beyond the old, tired, well-worn mistakes of the past. If we could design a better way to achieve liberation of hearts and minds using the tools that we only now are learning how to fashion, perhaps we could add to this discussion an element real power to actually cause beneficial change. It takes a positive attitude, a fresh look, and courage to move forward, though. The youthful members of today’s world have that opportunity, the tools, and maybe the will to do so.

    Yes, it is important to be mindful of social experiments that have failed, but let’s not allow them to hold us back at the same time. Mindful then of a wiser way to move forward, and with a means to do it, creative and building criticism has a place in our discourse, but try not to abort the child of hope before it has fully developed. -c

    1. Ryan Oakley

      Experiment? Africa is not your fucking laboratory.

      Experiment in your own backyard. Where you pay the consequences for “if it flops, it flops.” Consequences that could be much worse than “Oh well.”

      If you don’t learn from the past, you will repeat it. This does not learn from the past. This repeats it. And no amount of Internet vapours or words like “paradigm” or “hope” will change that.

      1. Craig

        Your opinion is interesting, but your tack lacks thoughtfulness. I do not consider Africa a place to experiment. What I was referring to were attempts in the past that amounted to doing such. We see what that has led to. But the world is getting smaller as social networking pulls us together, and my point (that is lost on you) is whether or not we like it, we need to learn how to use it in a way that is beneficial, and not make the mistakes of the past. Certainly that is not too advanced for you to conceive.

        What are you really trying to say here? What consequences do you imagine? Spell it out. I agree, we should take pains to not repeat past errors. But what do you propose that might be better than to make Kony (or any person/issue) famous so that the resources to deal constructively with him/it are made available? Let’s all communicate, and try not to simply sling an ugly word at those we do not agree with to make a point. Be useful.

        Argue your points with supportive information. I’ll try not to use words that seem to fluster you. Maybe we can come up with something better than Kony 2012 by at least not getting caught up in emotional responses to others. -c

        1. Ryan Oakley

          I’m not flustered. You’re just talking shit. If I use an “ugly” word, it is because I find your position ugly. I do not care to describe ugliness with pretty little butterflies of words.

          As for supportive information, I, as you said, presented history or, as you call it “the authorized version of the historical timeline we have received” *rolls eyes* and links.

          You refuse to acknowledge that history plays a role in this.

          When history teaches something you don’t want to hear, you refuse to listen. You present no evidence to back this anti-historical position up. Yet it is an extraordinary claim and requires extraordinary evidence. In taking such a wild position, the burden of proof is squarely on you.

          You have presented nothing.

          My position is simple. If you wish to learn from history, learn about the damage even well intentioned foreign intervention has had in Africa. Or anywhere, for that matter. And do not repeat. This is campaign is a repetition of some of the worst errors and crimes in human history. That is the ugliness that should concern you.

          To claim I’m ignorant about how social media can be used to apply the lessons of history so we don’t keep making the same old mistakes, when I have taken to a blog and twitter to apply the lessons of history against the same old mistakes is . . . Well, it’s a bit goofy.

          You are here reading this. That is, in itself, proof that your position is incorrect.

          I have presented history and a series of links about the consequences. You have presented absolutely nothing except a demand for evidence other than history (or, apparently, the links provided) couched in some sort of vague assertion that social networks overthrow history.

          They do not.

          The world has been getting smaller for years. (Steam engines, air travel, telegraph, radio, etc.) While that has always meant that our fortunes are more closely related to those people in distant lands, it does not mean that everyone has the right to intervene in everyone else’s affairs. Autonomy still has to be respected. As does agency.

          Those qualities are how we can live together in state of mutual respect.

          If a group of foreigners crowdsourced an army to bring people they found offensive in America –war criminals, even– to justice those people would be called terrorists. Your point is not too advanced for anyone to conceive – it’s just pedestrian, chauvinistic and vaporous.

          The post contains links. Read those.

          You encourage me to avoid getting emotional but you say ” It takes a positive attitude, a fresh look, and courage to move forward, though.” You are, of course, aware that “a positive attitude” and “courage” are emotional? (A fresh look is often just forgetfulness.)

          And your use of the word “though” implies that my attitude is negative, my outlook –because it is informed by recent history– obsolete and myself a coward. But you reserve the right to get offended by words for yourself? You’re quite precious, Craig.

          If you want to have a general discussion on the general merits of kickstarter, social media and whatnot, that is beyond the purview of this post. It does not and I do not take issue with any of these things but merely with their application in this specific instance.

          As for you and me having a sit down and trying to find a way to liberate “hearts and minds” (nice use of colonial doubletalk btw, I hope it was ironic), which in this case, would have to mean, try to find a way to solve Africa’s problems, I believe you missed the entire point of the post. They are not our problems to solve. Having twitter does not make them so. No more than having radio made them so. Or television. Or steam engines.

          As for consequences, I think you should read the posts I linked to and discuss those with the people who wrote those posts. You seem to think I’ve “imagined” these consequences. Yet, you have people that actually have to deal with these consequences telling you what they are. Not just in the future but in the past and right now. Even if this goes no further.

          Take it up with them.

          And have you been asleep for the past ten years to have not seen the consequences of foreign intervention? To think they’re imaginary?

          Aside from the consequences those posts discuss, there’s also this:

          http://kingsofwar.org.uk/2012/03/joseph-kony-and-crowdsourced-intervention/

          I don’t know what else I can do for you.

          In claiming that I have not presented supporting evidence, you’re obstinate and misleading. In taking issue with my tone and the words I use, while you engage in fluffy, feel-good jargon and backhanded insults, you’re self-righteous and prissy. In claiming that I’m some sort of abortionist, while your so-called ideas are the child of hope, you’re insipid. And, in claiming that this is not about the long-standing and dysfunctional relationship between the West and Africa but about the Internet and a bold experiment in social engineering, your priorities are confused beyond all repair.

          You’re either disingenuous or ignorant. Having some faith in your character (how’s that for a positive outlook?) I believe you’re simply ignorant.

          This is not an insult. Everyone is ignorant. It is forgiveable. But your refusal to correct it is stupidity. And that is not. You can start to correct it by reading the posts I’ve linked to.

          If you wish to speak more on the subject, I recommend you first figure out what the subject is —something no one else has had any trouble with– then find another place to do it.

          I have no interest in having my argument misrepresented, the subject changed or my word choice criticized on a site I pay for. You’re done here. Any further comments from you will not be posted or read.

          Cheers.

  2. Elizabeth

    I wish articles like this would trend on twitter. It is worrisome that so few people bothered to do background searches on this before blowing up the net. I knew hollywood was a bandwagon kind of place but good Lord I know have a lot of shows and movies I can not watch b/c of the ignorance of the main characters in real life. Sad face.

    It’s also amazing that they are shocked by these children in Africa that have guns and kill people. They have obviously never driven through inner city Detroit or Baltimore. They could have taken the picture above in many different neighborhoods right here in the US..minus the fatigues of the black men. I am also considering locking my son up in a bunker for the rest of his life. If the middle class white kids in high school and college are so eager to join a misinformed cause (as are many adults) what does that say about his future peer group when he gets to that age!

    I know why it does..but when I see all these mindless followers touting Make Kony Famous I want to punch them in the throat. Would love to be a cop on the night they are to paint the town with posters. I would taser and pepper spray all I came across.

    1. Ryan Oakley

      Please don’t pepper spray or taze anyone.

      And kids have always been eager to join a misinformed cause. That’s why so many of them end up in the army.

  3. Remco jamestown

    So its better to do nothing even tho every victim that is still able to speak begs for interference, keep buying our expensive coffees and cloth when we have the chance to use social media to influence the media so that gouvernments can MAINTAIN their support. The problem has spread to 3 other countries/regions and yet you take the moral highground telling us we shouldnt try to stop people like kony. Am not a mindless follower but you sir are full of yourself and i wish you could talk to the families that have lost their children and explain that their cries go unheard because we (you) are afraid to help for the betterment of their lives for the first time ever people actually started to care and you are trying to kill the spirit. All posters n such r free in pdf so not a money scam as only the fanboys buy merch and activists will go to shops n such and paint the city red (metaphorically plus people have been told to only taint their own property with these pisters as to not raise irritation against the movement. Its a shame you cant be more positive on this initiative yet if u feel we are all wrong and you are right (which seriously is possible ofc) then the dreamers of a better world lose. But its not a game you should be happy to win cuz its sad.

    1. Ryan Oakley

      Since you’re claiming to speak on behalf of Ugandans, I’m just going to refer you to this:

      http://thegrumpyowl.tumblr.com/post/19225525206/str8nochaser-swagandpassion

      And I think you should go to her website –the link is over there– and have a look around.

      I hope you read and think about it with an open mind and an open heart.

      Your good intentions are admirable but I think they’re being manipulated. And please don’t take this as an insult –I don’t mean it as such— but if you think this is the first time the world has “started to care” about Africa, you must be quite young.

      The choice is not between doing nothing and being a part of Stop Kony any more than the choice is between hate music or listen to Justin Bieber. There are plenty of things you can do to make the world a better place. Most of them will require more effort than putting up posters. But you should do them.

      I wish you the best of luck.

  4. Jessica

    Nowhere does Invisible Children say that they want actual US action taken towards Kony – obviously that would be overstepping our bounds. (And though I don’t think we should send any actual FORCE into Uganda or DR Congo or anywhere else, I do wonder – are you suggesting that we overstepped our bounds with Hussein, as well?)

    They want the world to take notice and do what they can; for the US, it’s to send help to train the soldiers in DR Congo, Uganda, South Sudan, CAR, etc. so that they can capture Kony and his lieutenants. NOT to actually participate in the war against the LRA.

    It’s not because they’re white and feel it’s their burden to bear. They do it because it’s the RIGHT thing to do. If the world continues to acknowledge monsters but let them roam free, we encourage it to continue. During WW2, we ignored Hitler, because we didn’t think he was “our problem”. And then he tried to conquer the world. And killed 6 million people in the process. If there had been a way to make Hitler our problem before world war broke out, we could’ve saved SO MANY PEOPLE. But it wasn’t “our problem”. And so 6 million people died the most horrific death… one you couldn’t even imagine.

    And yes, there are monstrous children here toting weapons and killing people. So let’s stop them too. That’s the point of Invisible Children and the Kony 2012 campaign. If we can come together as a people, stop arguing, and talk about the problems, we can find solutions. I’m so tired of everyone who is good in the world arguing about everything, and getting nothing accomplished. I’m a young person, I’ll admit it. And I recognize it’s an idealistic philosophy that I live with. But if we could all just stop for a moment and realize what’s truly important in this world; if we could stop and see that helping each other out is the only way we will make ourselves better; then maybe something in this world could change.

    And honestly, I’m tired of all the hate flying around this world. Why would I want to bring a child into a world where they’re taught not to care about anyone or anything? Where they’re taught that being malicious, hateful, even violent is acceptable? No, I would NEVER teach my child this. But they wouldn’t get that message from me. They get that message from posts like this, that can’t see past the politics of Invisible Children. Yes, putting up posters and wearing bracelets isn’t going to make a difference. But it will bring attention to it. And as mass media marketing shows, that is the FIRST step in getting people to buy into something.

    And buying into the value of human life is something I will gladly partake in. I’d rather put my money towards that ANY DAY over some of the things promoted on TV.

    Invisible Children’s goal isn’t to make Africa as a continent seem weak. It’s not to send food to starving Africans. It’s not to send all the power of the US army to capture LRA. It’s not to spread the message that the “poor Africans can’t help themselves”. It’s not to rescue Africa. It’s to say that abducting and killing children is wrong. And that it must end.

    I want to have children one day, and one day soon. And I want to show them a world that works together for the greater good of every person on earth. If only you’d show some compassion, instead of hate, then you’d do your part. Is that asking too much of you?

    We have a common enemy; it’s hatred, violence, murder. Let’s stop fighting about the path to ending it, and let’s unite to change this world. It’s a global community now, whether you want it to be or not. So let’s try and make it a peaceful one.

    ** One more thing – please don’t attack me. For one, it goes against everything I’ve said above. And secondly, I realize that I’m young and naive. But let me have my hope for a better world. Because the cynic in me is growing, and I’d like to think that hope still has a chance, both within myself and in the world.

    1. Ryan Oakley

      I have no interest in attacking you. And if I say you’re young, I’m not pointing out a character flaw. Young people are fine. I have no hostility towards them. IMHO, the world is made into a better place by the young. Youth has a lot of idealism and energy and these are great and powerful things.

      But it also doesn’t have much of a memory.

      My anger is directed at older people who manipulate that energy and idealism. Because they do. Well, some of them do.

      And the sad thing is, they’ll get your head so twisted around that, when an older person is just being straight up with you, they’ll have you thinking he’s cynical or full of hate or something. I know this. I was young once.

      But what might make you cynical is when you look back on all this and realize you were taken in and exploited by this group. That nothing changed for the better because of this group. That they made things worse and you helped. It might make you think that nothing can ever change. I’ve been there. And it hurts. It makes you angry and ashamed all at once. And that’s what creates cynicism. Not me. That.

      I’m not teaching you to hate or not to care. I don’t think you should hate and I think you should care. But I think you should care –deeply– about other people’s right to govern themselves. It’s really important. And I do think –I know, actually– that you have the power to change the world. For the better or for the worse.

      I hope you do so for the better.

      Having said that, I’m going to address your points.

      “And though I don’t think we should send any actual FORCE into Uganda or DR Congo or anywhere else, I do wonder – are you suggesting that we overstepped our bounds with Hussein, as well?)”

      Yes. Absolutely, I am. I’ve done more than suggest that on this blog. I’ve outright said it. That war was a war crime.

      “They want the world to take notice and do what they can; for the US, it’s to send help to train the soldiers in DR Congo, Uganda, South Sudan, CAR, etc. so that they can capture Kony and his lieutenants. NOT to actually participate in the war against the LRA.”

      Sending soldiers to train soldiers is actual participation in a war. Saying it’s not is double think.

      “They do it because it’s the RIGHT thing to do. If the world continues to acknowledge monsters but let them roam free, we encourage it to continue. During WW2, we ignored Hitler, because we didn’t think he was “our problem”. And then he tried to conquer the world. And killed 6 million people in the process. If there had been a way to make Hitler our problem before world war broke out, we could’ve saved SO MANY PEOPLE. But it wasn’t “our problem”. And so 6 million people died the most horrific death… one you couldn’t even imagine.”

      Your history here is wonky.

      No one ignored Hitler during WW2. They fought him. That’s why it was a world war. The very worst of the holocaust started in 1941, after everyone was already at war with him.

      England, France and Canada both went to war with him over his invasion of Poland in 1939. He responded by invading and occupying France and attacking England. This started the period known as the phony war — when the allies tried to get armed. When they tried not to lose. England help on for dear life.

      So, you see, doing something about Hitler was not as easy as it seems. He had the best army on the planet. Better than the American one. It took most of the world to stop him. The war cost around 50 million lives, most of which ended on the Eastern Front. It devastated Europe. That’s what it took to stop him. And it was done.

      So don’t go around saying no one tried to stop Hitler. They did try. They did stop him. It was an incredibly difficult thing to do. He was a superpower.

      Comparing Hitler and the German army to a stateless group who has been on the run for years, is a tragic misunderstanding of history and the present.

      “Yes, putting up posters and wearing bracelets isn’t going to make a difference. But it will bring attention to it. And as mass media marketing shows, that is the FIRST step in getting people to buy into something.”

      Speaking of Hitler . . . Ahem.

      Yes, as Reich propaganda minister Joseph Goebells could tell you, this is the first step in getting people to buy into something. But it does not mean that what they’re buying into is any good.

      “And buying into the value of human life is something I will gladly partake in. I’d rather put my money towards that ANY DAY over some of the things promoted on TV.”

      Absolutely glad to hear this. You know, I’m a published author who wrote a novel on this subject, right?

      “Invisible Children’s goal isn’t to make Africa as a continent seem weak. It’s not to send food to starving Africans. It’s not to send all the power of the US army to capture LRA. It’s not to spread the message that the “poor Africans can’t help themselves”.”

      It may not be their goal and I’m not saying it is their goal. I’m saying their actions are rooted in this conception.

      As to what their goals are, when I look at who sponsors them,

      http://www.alternet.org/newsandviews/article/847062/invisible_children_funded_by_antigay,_creationist_christian_right/

      I worry about what their goals might be.

      And unless you are on their board of directors, you can’t actually say what their goals are. You can only say what you think their goals are or what they told you their goals are.

      “We have a common enemy; it’s hatred, violence, murder. Let’s stop fighting about the path to ending it, and let’s unite to change this world. It’s a global community now, whether you want it to be or not. So let’s try and make it a peaceful one.”

      As long as by uniting, you don’t mean accept everything I see without criticism, then fine. If you do, sorry. I won’t hand over my mind in the name of unity. And no one is served by that. (You seem interested in Hitler, you should know then that his constant plea to the German people was for unity. Be wary of that word.)

      But yes, let’s try to make the world a peaceful one. We can start by not advocating for the training of armies to attack stateless actors in places we don’t live and pretending that doing so is not ‘actual participation’ in a war. War is not peace. War is war.

    2. requireshate

      Say, mind telling how young you are? I’m not keen on verbally beating up a teenager, because at that age I held views just as ignorant, hollow and sheltered as yours (though I had less access to information than you do, so one might wonder what your excuse might be).

  5. tim

    Hello,

    First, seeing as how this is the internetz, I’ve sifted through dozens of pro- and anti- IC/Kony2012 websites over the last week, and I have to go to class soon, this formatting isn’t as formal and the argument as complete as a good solid discussion necessitates.

    Second, let me say I support and appreciate your criticisms, involvement, and thorough responses to peoples’ own responses to your post. I think that everything needs to be criticized and analyzed, and that dialogue, not static statements of how things are, (“IC is good” or “IC is bad”) is the only way for real change and understanding to come about.

    Third, you make good points about the controversy of IC, their funders, their transparency, etc etc. The difference between clicking a Like button for Metallica and for clicking on donations to an international aid/interventionist group are staggering. The ease with which information and movements can be circulated now is truly staggering.

    Fourth, it’s important to do the right thing, support the right people, have the right information and intentions. I don’t think IC is perfect. As a media studies major, and as a person, the glossiness and sensational aspects of their campaigns bother me. However, that question is – if mobilizing support requires propoganda, do you use it? Do you make your stuff somewhat propoganda-ish? Do you go for as dry and factual a movement as possible, one which takes much longer, but is much more thorough? How do you make apathetic, insulated people care? It seems to me many of these criticisms, from yourself and others, are not only about IC but about intervention and aid in general. Yes, a great deal of aid programs are broken, corrupt, or problematic.
    That is not an excuse to stop all aid altogether. To do so would be to say “well, not our problem,” when, because of the West’s long history of colonialism and selfish intervention, it is our problem in terms of who created it.
    http://s3.amazonaws.com/www.invisiblechildren.com/critiques.html
    This is the IC response to much of the criticism. Except that last part (god, why must we pander to the idiocy of the new social media generation? .facepalm.) about Kesha…I think it’s well-written and does a good job. I think that IC has done a fair job.

    What I would like you to do, since you seem to know more about this that I do, is counter the gains made by IC.

    Early-warning radio systems in the area
    School rebuilding
    Community rebuilding
    Domestic awareness-raising

    Lastly, I understand your argument against the West intervening. This is a fucking. huge. issue.
    I believe I also understand that aid work does should not be “fixing,” but can instead be “helping.” This is possible. When the USA represents the global 1% of the world, there is nothing wrong with redistributing American resources, power, and privileged to other disenfranchised parts of the area. No, I’m not saying all of Africa, or Uganda, or elsewhere, is entirely disenfranchised, and therefore supporting the paradigm of American dominance. And all that shite.

    Put simply, I’m saying – we are grossly privileged to the point of apathy and perpetual indulgence, so why not snap out of that and put ourselves to good work helping others, domestically and internationally?

    Being non-interventionist in times of conflict is dangerously close to being isolationist. You can call interventions or multi-lateralism part of white man’s burden. I disagree.
    I think that invading Iraq on the pretense of security and Hussein is complete bullshit and a war crime, and represents the incorrect prioritization of US foreign policy and interests.
    I also think that turning a blind eye to mass atrocities is as unforgivable as causing them.
    People keep talking about Hitler as the main comparison here. Hitler is not the same thing. Hussein is not the same thing.
    Systematic rape and abduction in DRC (which is mainly fucked up because of colonialism caused by the West), not just from LRA, but from governmental forces and other forces, is the same thing.
    What if the USA (or whatever powers-that-be, which is really what is at hand here) had intervened in Rwanda?
    Hutus, Tutsis, and Rwanda are the closest thing. Daily death rates (from machetes and clubs, mainly) that exceed the daily death rates of Hitler’s slaughter is the same thing.

    “It’s not a problem unless there’s a solution.” So, what are your solutions? If you know of a way to reform, at the policy and actual level, Ugandan, DRC, Sudanese, and CAR politics, wow, go for it. But let’s face it – those political abuses are systemic and require massive, massive resources in terms of time, campaigns, local involvement, etc etc to reform. Are there decent programs for foreigners interested, or are there already good movements on the ground there and whatever foreign aid “helped” can stop, now?

    IC was made of people who saw a problem and made a solution and is representative of the better side of humanity than the current, apathetic, callous side of humanity that prevails today amongst the powers-that-be. It’s flawed. But it seems to me it also helps. Can you refute the work they’ve done on the ground? How many Americans didn’t give one flying fuck about genocide a month ago? Maybe some actually care now, and if a lot don’t really care (slacktivism) maybe at least their silly idealistic teens care (as children of a global empire should), and that will grow into sincere, real contributions in the future.

    Peace

  6. Ryan Oakley

    Hi,

    We’re in agreement on a lot.

    In terms of countering the gains made on the ground by IC, I think they’ve done a pretty good job of that themselves:

    http://boingboing.net/2012/03/14/uganda-screening-of-kony-201.html

    (I also think that might go to the point you made about whether or not to use propaganda.)

    Whatever gains IC has made on the ground, the Ugandans might have made without them. IC wants credit but one wonders how much they actually deserve. Uganda has turned a corner. To my mind, that has nothing to do with IC. It has to do with Uganda.

    Intervention is a huge issue. Africa has never suffered from a lack of it. It would be nice –insofar as that word can be used here– to think the worst the west did in 1994 Rwanda was nothing. But it’s not true. France trained and armed the genocidaires.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7542418.stm

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/sarkozy-admits-frances-role-in-rwandan-genocide-1911272.html

    The thing is, these days, the best intervention is to stop intervening. Many of the real problems in the world don’t exist in spite of western apathy but because of western support.

    In recent memory, one could point to Mubarak.

    Also Bahrain, host to the fifth fleet, is repressing its citizens using American made weapons.

    So, the place to start, I think, is just to stop interfering. IC is part of this and an annoying part. They aren’t the worst part. But they make for a decent target to get the conversation going.

    The relationship between the West and Africa is abusive. If I may be permitted a metaphor, it’s like your husband beating you. In some sense, it might be nice if he could treat your wounds but in another, it’s probably best that he just leave. His intentions can’t be trusted and the fact that he caused the wounds is not the best recommendation for him as doctor.

    My hope would be that the west stop abusing Africa. I think that’s where attention should be focused. That’s what I think western people need to think about and do something about. That part of the problem is our responsibility.

    We’re looting their natural resources. That’s the main problem. The charities are part of this. Not the worst part but part. And they too need to stop. Particularly when their propaganda is offensive to the people they claim to be helping. When it plays to the same stereotypes that create so many of these problems in the first place, I have to view it as propaganda for colonization. Like you, I hope this campaign plants a seed. But, if it plants the right one, it’ll be in spite of their efforts, not because of them.

    Just to speak to this for a moment:

    “So, what are your solutions? If you know of a way to reform, at the policy and actual level, Ugandan, DRC, Sudanese, and CAR politics, wow, go for it.”

    I don’t know a way to reform their politics. I also don’t think they’re mine to reform.

    I do, however, think we should reform our politics.

    But here, you have to understand my sense of duty and what I think it entails. I’m an author. I believe my duty to be overturning stereotypes, expressing the universality of the human heart and acting, where I can, on the cultural level of change.

    If you want reform at the policy and actual level, your best bet, I think, is to write to your local MP. Or, if you’re an American, your congress. Or president. Find out where they stand.

    If you want opinions on how to best help Africa or if they even need/want your help, the cool thing about the Internet is that it you can talk to Africans about this. Or read their sites.

    What they say should be listened to.

    And, who knows? Maybe you make a friend in a different part of the world, which is always so much better than politics anyway. Actual friendships between different peoples, on a grassroots level dis-intermediated by ‘groups’, would probably solve so many of the world’s problems. I’m idealistic about that.

    For my part, I think we need to stop exploiting Africa. I believe goods that are made with unethical labour, should be tariffed. That’d be a start. It’d make slavery less profitable.

    If we were able to handle our end of the thing -not by giving but just stopping the taking- Africa, being a remarkably rich and diverse continent, will do just fine. Rather than being able to pat ourselves on the back for their success, it’ll take an admission of our ongoing guilt.

    I’m not sure people are ready to bluntly admit that guilt. But it must be done. It might prevent this guilt from manifesting in weird, and I think destructive, ways like the Kony campaign.

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