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Joseph Kony and the ‘Visible Children’

Posted on Mar 7, 2012
YouTube / invisiblechildreninc

Update 2: And now it’s Invisible Children’s turn to respond to the criticism against them, some of which is captured below. Read their full statement here.

Update: Grant Oyston, a sociology and political science student at Acadia University in Nova Scotia, has some pressing concerns about the leaders of Invisible Children, the nonprofit group that is trying to launch a global manhunt for Ugandan guerrilla chief Joseph Kony.

From Oyston’s blog, “Visible Children”:

Invisible Children has been condemned time and time again. As a registered not-for-profit, its finances are public. Last year, the organization spent $8,676,614. Only 32% went to direct services (page 6), with much of the rest going to staff salaries, travel and transport, and film production. This is far from ideal for an issue which arguably needs action and aid, not awareness, and Charity Navigator rates their accountability 2/4 stars because they lack an external audit committee. But it goes way deeper than that.

The group is in favour of direct military intervention, and their money supports the Ugandan government’s army and various other military forces. Here’s a photo of the founders of Invisible Children posing with weapons and personnel of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army. Both the Ugandan army and Sudan People’s Liberation Army are riddled with accusations of rape and looting, but Invisible Children defends them, arguing that the Ugandan army is “better equipped than that of any of the other affected countries”, although Kony is no longer active in Uganda and hasn’t been since 2006 by their own admission. These books each refer to the rape and sexual assault that are perennial issues with the UPDF, the military group Invisible Children is defending.


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Over the last two decades, Ugandan guerrilla leader Joseph Kony has forced more than 60,000 kidnapped children to kill for him and made some into sex slaves—crimes that have put him atop the International Criminal Court’s most-wanted list. This is the year nonprofit crusaders Invisible Children say they’ll stop him.

The campaign to bring Kony to justice gets a boost with the video below. Over the course of half an hour, we meet a boy who escaped from Kony’s army, the filmmaker and activist who helped the boy, and a number of officials involved in the hunt. We also learn of the grass-roots efforts made by thousands of people in recent years to build a mass movement capable of forcing governments to stop widespread murder.

While touchingly made and noble in its cause, the film falls short of explaining how U.S. and other nations’ policies help to create monsters like Kony. It is a well-intentioned propaganda piece that may well help catch a criminal, but will do little to help the public understand the conditions that enabled him to dominate and terrorize a region—conditions that will not disappear even if and when he is found. —ARK

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By heterochromatic, March 10, 2012 at 6:59 pm Link to this comment

that comment is attributed to “Gerard” with a cap

still too close for comfort pr clarity but there IS a
distinction that people can pick up upon.

Report this

By gerard, March 10, 2012 at 2:52 pm Link to this comment

ATTENTION PLEASE:  The comment signed “gerard” under March 8 at 12:40 is NOT mine and I have asked Truthdig to remove it at once.  I have no idea how it got there.

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By anonymous, March 8, 2012 at 10:44 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

At least there will be one less evil murder out in the world.

Report this

By heterochromatic, March 8, 2012 at 6:17 pm Link to this comment

Nomo——I guess that it would be more accurate to portray the face of
international terror as Lithuanian/Paraguayan

Report this

By Gerard, March 8, 2012 at 1:40 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“The largest onshore oilfield in sub-Saharan Africa
has recently been discovered” Where? That’s right,
The Iraq invasion had nothing to do with oil in was
because of WMD, Libya was purely humanitarian.
If people could just realize America has helped so
many countries recently - Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya
.... even right now we’re helping Pakistan. Who can
we help next? Iran? Syria?

Report this

By Nomorekoolaid, March 8, 2012 at 12:45 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I find it intersting that for the past decade news outlets have plastered African/Middle-Eastern terrorist leaders as the face of global terrorism. Every time I turn on the tv or visit a blog we have captured or are trying to capture to protect the citizens from their leader’s wrath….when does it end? Great article - at least some of us are not brainwashed. Anytime these satanic celebrities jump on the awareness/rally bandwagon, be careful…look at the persuasive success of 2008 (remember YES WE CAN…right?)

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By heterochromatic, March 8, 2012 at 12:20 pm Link to this comment

dicer——- conditions that have preceded things are not the same as conditions
that have CAUSED those things and not as the same as conditions that MUST
cause that thing to recur.

the overall point is that something horrible is going on and, while I agree with
you and every one else that understanding ig good, it’s not top of the list. priority
one is opposing it and acting to to stop it…...


when people assert reasons for the fall of the towers I listen and I understand
what they’re saying…..a vital part of every person’s education is learning to see
things from the POV of the other person…....

understanding is good.

this shit still must be dealt with

Report this

By kyleclimbsweak, March 8, 2012 at 8:56 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The attacks on Invisible Children tend to center on 3 items. How they use their funds, how the propose to fight Kony, and in the article above, how our own policies create figures like Kony. As to the efficiency of this non-profit, stating on 32% of the funds reach Africa, yeah that is not great for a 501(c)(3) but it seems that despite this they have by far been the most effective group in rallying people behind this cause. If the rest of the money is going towards travel and salaries for the executives we need to realize that the executives and the travels they made are what are featured in this video and what are creating this movement. 32% of a lot is a much better proposition than 100% of nothing. Points two and three both point to greater issues in our world as well as rationales for inaction. We do not create change as long as we do not support the removal of People like Kony from power. Yes we have domestic policy issues that we need to look at, as well as understanding what happens in the vacuum of power after Kony is gone. There are a million other causes to support as well, but why not start with the most wanted international war crimininal? Yes we are getting swept an internet meme but is that so bad?

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By blue489, March 8, 2012 at 7:44 am Link to this comment

The film’s function is to stop a monster.

To criticize it for not exploring the various theories of how he arose is ludicrous. 

First you remove the cancer, then the healing can begin.

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By dicer, March 8, 2012 at 1:17 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

heterochromatic -’s_Resistance_Army#History

don’t pretend that a long history of inequality on ethnic/geographical lines has nothing to do with the creation of militant rebel factions. i also don’t see how raising awareness of some of the root causes of unrest in africa (& other regions) would be somehow preventing the arrest of kony? is it really that important that we raise people’s awareness of the fact that “There’s a bad man doing evil crimes in Africa”? it’s not as if US efforts weren’t already being made to capture him. here’s a foreignaffairs article that gives a little background and a fairly balanced view on the subject, written a few months ago

being aware of the reasons for the existence of insurgencies isn’t the same thing as sympathising with them. when people tell you the twin towers fell because of american troops stationed too close to mecca + unconditional US support for israel, do you block your ears and call them terrorists?

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By Eric, March 7, 2012 at 9:41 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If your numbers are correct, than that is alarming.
I’d like to see the victims get as much of that
money as possible. But for you to attempted to
discount what they do, I find it hard to stomach.

You reposted that somebody said “This is far from
ideal for an issue which arguably needs action and
aid, not awareness”. That is so dead wrong, I don’t
even know where to start. Awareness is the
foundation of any movement. With awareness comes
more aid and more action. They’ve created a MASSIVE
amount of awareness, given aid, and initiated
action no other charity could produce. In my mind,
that 8,676,614 dollars has done more to efficiently
help a group of people or region than any in
history. They could have taken 100% of the
donations, not giving a penny in true “aid” and I’d
still say the same thing.

I knew when I watched the video that I was watching
a propaganda piece. But your cute little post is
propaganda as well…and the worst kind. KONY 2012
is trying to galvanize a generation. That’s going
to take a little propaganda for the greater good.
Your propaganda is meant to do nothing but
discredit this movement and make us hesitate to

Have you ever heard of the saying: “Give a man a
fish, he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish, he
eats for a lifetime”? Will giving them some loafs
of bread and fresh water stop them from being
abducted? No. This Invisible Children charity is
taking a new approach to international aid. And
it’s a good one.

Obviously, in reading your cynical post, you missed
that point.

Report this

By nicole, March 7, 2012 at 7:57 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

love how this isn’t expanded on at all. They touch on a subject and don’t explain it
or discuss it. if you want people to know about how America and other countries
encourage war criminals like this..why don’t YOU tell me? where is the
information? and what does it matter? This is what people do. They place blame
and don’t DO anything about the situation. Who cares who is at fault? Who cares
who encourages people like this? I know that America won’t help anyone unless
our interests are concerned. Most people get that. But it doesn’t matter. All that
matters is that people like this are stopped. Its like hitler all over again. and its not
just Kony, this stuff has been happening for a long time. Where do you think he
got it from? but the problem is people just sit there and talk and no one does

Report this

By heterochromatic, March 7, 2012 at 7:35 pm Link to this comment

ARK——you really think that “explaining how U.S.
and other nations’ policies help to create monsters
like Kony…”

isn’t far done the list from simply stopping Kony and
all the insane shit…...

you wanna try arguing for some “historical
inevitability” or other theory that Kony is simply an
unavoidable result of conditions ?

go right ahead.

Report this

By VivaLaRevolucion, March 7, 2012 at 1:12 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I payed close attention to the last point you made.
As I was watching the film especially the part in
which they point out the U.S involvement. I began to
think did the U.S have anything to do in the creation
of such a criminal. In your article you state “it is
a well-intentioned propaganda piece that may well
help catch a criminal, but will do little to help the
public understand the conditions that enabled him to
dominate and terrorize a region—conditions that will
not disappear even if and when he is found.” Can you
inform or elaborate on the “conditions that enabled
him to dominate and terrorize…”; or can you provide
a way to obtain this type of information? It really
got my attention and I would like to find out more
detail information and see if the U.S had any type of
influence on his actions. Great article.

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