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Kony 2012 and the Politics of Do-Gooders

In the wake of the original Invisible Children video, I wrote a thriller called Rock Star Rescue, the story of Ugandan children who kidnap a visiting American pop star in the hope that when US troops come to rescue her, they’ll rescue them too.  Despite being relevant, and a tour-de-force role for the right actress, it remains unproduced. I was told that the problem is, no one cares about Africa.

Fast forward 5 years. The Invisible Children people are now promoting a new media campaign to get Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) which has ravaged Northern Uganda for 26 years and abducted over 30,000 children.  The Kony 2012 campaign is as follows:

If you don’t watch the whole thing, basically they want to make Kony a “celebrity” with a recognition as great as George Clooney, so that by our united social media fervor, our government will be compelled to bring him to justice.

While I believe in the end game of bringing down Kony and ending this war that has killed, maimed, mutilated, disfigured, and destroyed so many, I believe this campaign will fail.

Yes, I said FAIL. Sorry.

I pray I’m wrong.  It’s times like this that I hate being the one to bring reality to inspired, caring people but…

I am right, and here’s why:

1. Celebrity status does squat.  Carlos the Jackal was the most famous killer/terrorist in the world in 1975 and remained at large for almost 20 years with every European power and the US looking for him.  The Sudanese finally screwed him over once he went to the hospital for a testicular operation.

In 1985, “We Are the World” tried to save Africa.  Radio stations held the world ransom, torturing music lovers everywhere until the record went platinum.   The result was shiploads of food, oodles of good will and celebrity pats on the back that raised their album sales and concert attendance.

And the food rotten on the docks.  That is, the parts that weren’t used by corrupt dictators to fund their private armies to continue exploiting the starving masses.

Then there’s Osama Bin Laden.  Remember him?  In case you just woke from a long coma, the most hated man in the known universe, responsible for massacring 3 THOUSAND Americans and screwing up property values in lower Manhattan, took the heat for 10 years with a $25M+ bounty on his head and was finally taken from his world of relaxation and pornography by US  forces, less than a mile from a Pakistani military post.  And the guy who tipped us off was persecuted for blabbing.

Can anyone name any petty tyrant, terrorist or dictator that was so overwhelmed by fame and face recognition that he ran tearfully into the open arms of justice?

2. It’s arrogant to think our opinion trumps reality.  Remember what happened with “We Are the World”?  Despite all our public resentment and broken piggy banks, the LRA continues to flow in and out of Sudan, Uganda and Congo at will.  It has done so longer than most of this current crop of do-gooders have been alive.  Do you really think Uganda’s military haven’t noticed?  Who do you think Kony has been fighting against?

medicine-girlWhat I want to know is, who tells kids that their passion (No, you don’t understand – I really REALLY want this, really) and social media prowess can change the world?  The world doesn’t give a rat’s ass for your opinions and child soldiers don’t check Facebook.

Fact: over the last 50 years, we’ve pumped politicians, prayers, our best wishes and over 500 BILLION DOLLARS into Africa for various causes.  The LRA remains because Africa benefits.

Yes, I said it.

The whole open-handed alphabet of organizations, from UN to WFP and NGO, use monsters like Kony as poster children. Oh, and don’t forget documentary filmmakers and reporters get paid. Musicians sell records.  Dictators stand for photo-ops and request more money.  Obama sends money and military consultants.  The World Bank cuts another check.  Rinse and repeat.

Without Kony, the gravy train stops, right?  Or does it?

The uglier truth is that the poor Acholi people of Northern Uganda have ALWAYS been used to populate armies.  The child soldier graduates to local militia and then to national military.  If Kony falls, and I hope he does, what follows?  Do you think the cycle won’t continue because you sent a dollar and chewed your congressman’s ear?

3. Our Savior Is NOT the Government.  Trading on many a citizen’s prejudices a moment, how well is/did our government do in saving Iraq?  Afghanistan? Syria?  Egypt?  The former Soviet Republics? etc.

Why, after all this celeb-building and coin rattling would you hand over this noble throng to politicians?  They won’t even address the Mexican cartel war spilling over our own border!

Besides, it’s true when they say, “poor people in rich countries fund rich people in poor countries.”

This absurd belief in top-down government solutions has to stop. Stop sending ambassadors, officials and consultants, military or otherwise. Vietnam started with military consultants.  So did Blackhawk Down.

Our government is only truly great at sending troops in to kill people and blow stuff up.  Getting Kony in this scenario will probably mean American troops slaughtering thousands of child soldiers.  Are you ready for that?

Humble Alternatives for Kony 2012

Instead of funding Kony’s campaign for terrorist sainthood or Uganda’s presidency (after all, he’ll have better name recognition), send money to and volunteer for organizations working on the ground.  YOU get involved.

Consider the Children of War Center in Gulu, which is trying to reacclimate former child soldiers into their communities.  Give to micro-financing organizations, which have made great strides in other countries.

Finally, stop pretending you can stop terrorists with your moral outrage, solidarity and loose change.

You want to stop Kony? Send MERCENARIES  Kill Kony

Trolling Facebook and creating clever hashtags don’t stop villains.

BULLETS stop villains.

Because even if you can get Harrison Ford to recreate Witness, trap Kony alone in some Amish community and shame him with the gaze of everyone running when you ring that bell, Kony won’t lay down.  He destroys community for a living, folks.

Get Mel Gibson to recreate Ransom, sit at that table with several million dollars and dare mercenaries to go on safari.  Blast it on Uganda radio that the first child soldier to deliver Kony’s head gets a palace.

THAT is how you get Kony.

But if that’s not your speed, you still have the following:
Donate to Invisible Children:
Purchase KONY 2012 products:
Sign the Pledge:

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