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Why I still support the KONY 2012 movement

It seems the world was awash with a flood of empathy arising from the Kony 2012 video released earlier last week. Sadly, that motivation for change, that inkling against bureaucratic apathy, that we, the american citizen had a voice and could change the world was eroded away with criticism. Yet it no-one criticized the criticism.  American citizens and the world alike have slouched back into political apathy, but this time feeling justified. 
It is clear to me that the criticisms need to be resolved directly. I want to stress that this isn’t an attempt to say that invisible children is THE perfect charity out there, indeed it is probably not (although its efficacy is unprecedented) but rather that we shouldn’t waste all of the effort and sweat that thousands of empathetic americans like yourself to create such a beautifully successful campaign go to waste. I would even argue that the charity, although not perfect, is very good.
For a simple answer, here is a response from the Invisible Children organization themselves about their critiques
Perhaps the most pertinent issue is finances. Before I address this issue directly, I want to avert your attention a moment to charity navigator’s (the same site ubiquitously cited in invisible children’s criticisms) rating of the American Cancer society. In particular I want to direct your attention to their rating, and to the salaries. 
If you are too lazy to look at this (which if you are I hope you are not making an outward stance against the Kony 2012 campaign) here are some brief numbers. 
Their rating is a 3 out of 4 stars
The chief executive officer of The American Cancer Society is compensated $914,906 yearly for his position
The now retired national vice president of division services was compensated this:$1,550,705
Finally, the now retired deputy CEO was given this: $1,407,719
But you don’t see anyone getting all ansy pansy about those salaries. Let’s redirect our attention towards the Invisible Children charity. 
you will see that they have a similar charity rating (3) but that their incomes are less than one-tenth of that of the American Cancer Society. 
All three founders of Invisible Children make between $84,000 and $89,700. 
Now granted you might still be thinking, well gee, thats still a lot for a charity. And granted you may be right. But for one compared to other reputable charities out there, they really are not giving themselves that much, and for two, who is one to decide that a CEO may exploit millions of people for his tremendous gain, but the founders of an extremely successful charity that dedicate their lives to helping people should be judged more harshly?
Second, the issue of oversimplifying the issue and or justifying war
I am probably one of the biggest pacifists I know, and yet I still support the Kony 2012 movement. For one, I don’t think the Invisible Children charity are war hungry like people make them out to be. For two, they don’t want Kony killed, they merely want to 1.) raise awareness of his atrocities and 2.) arrest him so that he can be tried by the International Criminal Court. NOT KILL HIM. 
As for the Ugandan Army being just as bad as the LRA, the best I can say is that I tried hard to find documentaries or media about their atrocities and found little to nothing. That is not to say that they haven’t committed atrocities, not at all (indeed even our own military has committed acts unspeakable), but rather to say that comparing them to the LRA is unfounded at best. I suggest you do the same and search for this evidence of their brutality.
Why is the Ugandan Army fighting Kony when Kony has fled his armies to other countries? Because the Ugandan army is one of the only armies strong enough and motivated enough to get him (considering their country experienced horrible atrocities because of him).
There was a picture that has gotten a lot of notoriety with the founders holding guns. The picture was a joke, because it was a peace talk/conference. It is impossible to find any other picure of them that is similar, and moreover the picture could not be found with a filter on google for images before the video’s success. However I do have to admit that the person who admitted photographing them said that she was not in full support of their charity, but mainly because of the big brother syndome I’m going to go over next, not some war hungry character of theirs. 
Big brother syndrome
I do struggle with this issue, especially being a sociology major, and the last thing I want to do is to personally belittle and stereotype a certain group of people. For one, I think that there is a huge oversimplification of Africa, to the point that Americans unconsciously slip and say it is a country (not a continent). I think there is a big brother syndrome to a certain extent that Africans are viewed as pitiable and helpless and that all of Africa is homogenous. However I don’t think this justifies inactivity when help is needed. This campaign might be big brother like in nature, and I don’t deny that, but should we instead turn a blind eye like we did during the Rwandan Genocide? Honestly, I think how the big brother syndrome is used in regards to the Kony 2012 campaign is more of a justification for political apathy than it is to have any real and in depth understanding of the people affected. Moreover the video necesarily had to juxtapose Americans and Africans to elicit the reaction it did (this sentence is somewhat of a means to address the ugandans anger at the showing). 
First of all, WTF? Not only is this extremely ironic (using not wanting to be a slacktivist as justification for not acting at all) but it is COMPLETELY UNFOUNDED. YES, retweeting a video doesn’t take a lot of effort, but it is EXTREMELY EFFECTIVE. No other campaign to my knowledge has gotten the WHOLE WORLD to think about an issue like the KONY 2012 video has. Not to mention, how the fuck do you think the egyptian revolution happened? That’s right, “slacktivism”. If it takes billions of slacktivists to make a few million activists, I think that’s a good deal. Facebook and twitter have the ability to connect the whole world. That one repost could just be viewed by HUNDREDS of your friends. I don’t think that is “slacktivism”, I think that is technological efficiency at it’s finest. 
Look at Media surrounding Invisible Children before their Viral Video
When I first saw the criticisms of Invisible Children I did a lot of digging and research to understand just what kind of charity I was dealing with. Through this research I have found that I have not gotten less supportive of the organization, but rather more so. I recommend everyone do the same, for whatever outcome, whether it helps you support the charity or rather to support your criticisms, the big thing here is to do as much research as possible before taking a stance. 
to start here are a few links
Invisible Children on Oprah on April 20th 2011
Natalie Warne on TED about her internship with Invisible Children
BBC’s Take on the LRA (FEB 2011)
Or simply try this. Go to googlenews and in the date bar make the date so that it filters all news AFTER the video went viral out of the results. You might be surprised to see that it was all praise and little criticism before it’s success. 
So why all the criticism? I think it is because of a couple of things. For one, it has been a huge success, and with success comes criticism. I think there is an aesthetic to figuring out that everyone is wrong and you are right. To be honest, I think there are many people in America (especially wealthy ones) who simply don’t want to support effort to a cause that isn’t directly beneficial to the United States resource consumption or security. 
The end note is this
The founders of Invisible Children have dedicated years to this project. And regardless of whether you think the charity is perhaps too emotional, too media oriented, or too big brothery, you have to admit that they taught more people about an atrocity and made them care about it, than perhaps any other campaign in history. Having done activism and charity work myself, I know this motivation and knowledge are beautiful and rare, and is only the result of a long hard dedicated process. To see young people talking about, engaging in, and sharing something they care about, and wanted to change, Hell to actually believe in their ability and autonomy to change it was awe inspiring to me (in a good way). Then the criticism hit, and it seemed many bought it at face value, even perhaps flaunting their superiority in knowledge to those dumb enough to believe the “scam”. The others now felt socially ostracized if they still supported the cause, and pressure to social conformity kicked in. I don’t want to support this if I’m going to get ridiculed I thought at first, and I’m sure many share this feeling. Knowledge is power. Go out there and judge for yourself if Invisible Children is a charity you want to support. If the video inspired you, do something about it. Even if you don’t support Invisible Children directly, you can still support the cause. Don’t let apathy take over. What a shame it would be for the invisible children campaign to not bring these children them into view, but rather shut them back into the darkness again, and result in Americans distracting ourselves with trivial things once again. The world is inspired, and we should utilize that inspiration. Now is the chance to make a difference, now is the chance to stand up for what you believe in. Do what inspires you, and what you know is right. 
And so I leave you with this…
“Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world, in fact it is the only thing that ever has” ~ Margaret Mead


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