EDIT - 10/3/2012
100,000 unique visitors in 36 hours, and I've lost count of the page views. One word, share. Harnessing the power of social media, together we can educate the masses. Copy and share this link to every community you know and let's get people educated. Contrary to popular belief, I do NOT profit off of my blog at all, I believe it is philosophically wrong and all I ask from you the reader, is that you share the good word by copying and sharing the link to this blog!
EDIT - 10/3/2012
Before you read ANY of the arguments, I think the most compelling argument lies in a recent development. If you choose to ignore everything in the blog, please, just feast your eyes on the paragraph below that shows the idiocy of IC:
Fellow blogger Grant Oyston is a HUGE advocate against Invisible Children, the organization behind the Kony Campaigns. He made a post complaining that IC are not "spending their money well" on the KONY 2012 campaign. Do you know what was IC's response to his accusations that they are not spending money correctly? They offered him an ALL EXPENSES paid trip to San Diego, FOLLOWED BY a PAID trip to Africa to talk with the leaders personally. Grant estimates the cost of everything will be $3000 US, but I believe including the round trip and other expenses, it'll be around the ballpark of at least $10,000. And guess where that money is coming from? That's right, DIRECTLY from YOUR donations to Invisible Children Inc. - Thankfully Oyston rejected the offer of unprecedented idiocy! Oyston has revealed this in his visible children blog and this is ONE small example of the misuse of THOUSANDS of DOLLARS in DONATION MONEY on something ridiculously trivial. I challenge you to read this paragraph 5 times over and still feel compelled to give money to the Invisible Children Inc.
EDIT: - 9/3/2012
If you are looking for alternative charities to donate to, Glenna Gordon via the Washington Post has suggested:
I think there are a lot of reputable NGOs doing the daily business of development — the actual building of latrines, training of teachers, etc. Oxfam and IRC have great operations in Uganda. Lacor Hospital,Caritas Uganda, The Refugee Law Project, Christian Counseling Fellowship, and African Youth Initiative Network. I really hope that we can redirect the energy to these groups, as much as possible.
My job here is to present to you FACTS and FIGURES that will show you a new perspective into the whole KONY 2012 campaign. I will present to you an argument, followed by a fact and usually a citation from a reliable source. This is all arranged into an easy bite-sized chunk.
#1 - invisible Children Inc
1) If we look at the salary of the Charity CEO's, one finds some shocking numbers!
Let's take a Charity like WorldTeach. My folks know the charity well, and they donate frequently to the organization. A quick look at Charity Navigator shows that the only salary of note is of the CEO's and it is $41,846. Not bad right?
Now, contrast this with Invisible Children's total salaries of notability:
$88,241 - Ben Keesey Chief Executive Officer
$89,669 - Jason Russell Co-Founder - Filmmaker
$84,377 - Laren Poole Co-Founder -Filmmaker
So this adds us to a total of $262,287! That's right. The notable salaries of Invisible Children amount to a QUARTER OF A MILLION split between three greedy individuals. Compare this with WorldTeach. WorldTeach not only has only 1 notable salary on the charity list, but it is a mere 41,846 dollars. The notable salary expenditure of Invisible Children is 400% more, at a whopping, $262,287 US dollars.
EDIT: I am AWARE that the CEO's money is only 80 thousand, but if we were to view salaries HOLISTICALLY:
Total notable salaries of WorldTeach: $41,846
Total notable salaries of Invisible Children Inc: $262,287
Invisible Children not only has three notable salaries (compare that with WorldTeach's mere 1), the total notable salaries combined is 400% that much.
Lastly, here is a direct quote from the Visible Children blog:
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, and Charity Navigator rates their accountability 2/4 stars because they haven’t had their finances externally audited. But it goes way deeper than that.
#2 We're fighting in uganda?
"invisible children is a movement seeking to end the conflict in Uganda and stop the abduction of children for use as child soldiers."
There's a problem. The LRA disbanded in Uganda in 2006. While they have done some slight expansion into Central Africa, logistically and infrastructural-wise, at least 90% of Invisible Children's operations happen in Uganda. It is logistically impossible for someone so entrenched in Uganda to be a main flag-carrier for a terrorist campaign that is down in SOUTH SUDAN. Invisible Children is a Uganda based organization and since they have been rid of Joseph Kony in Uganda for 7 years now, what are they still doing campaigning something that is not their problem? The essence of it lies in incentives (thank you Freakonomics). And that is money.
EDIT 9/3/2012: For those of you arguing that the Invisible Children Inc. can still operate within South Sudan, it is logistically extremely inefficient to transfer infrastructure to another country, especially one of South Sudan's size. Proof? If you look on IC's official website, the ONLY infrastructure they have built outside of Uganda since the LRA left Uganda is a small rehabilitation center that can house 200 or so people.
The rehabilitation center is a nice thought, but the fact that a 13 million dollar a year revenue charity can only build ONE rehabilitation center in the 7 years that the LRA has moved to South Sudan just highlights the inherent logistical problem of IC being based in Uganda. If you want to donate, donate to a South Sudanese charity because they will be much better disposed in terms of infrastructure to aid the South Sudanese in the fight against the LRA. To sum it up, in 7 years, IC makes about 91 MILLION dollars, and all they have to show for it is a small rehabilitation center in South Sudan? They are in NO position to lead the frontal assault against Kony simply because he has moved out of Uganada. It is LOGISTICALLY impossible.
#3 Fighting violence with violence
I will end this point by appealing to common sense. Obama sent 100 specialized troops to attempt to deal with the Joseph Kony uprising. And you know what were their orders? They were NOT allowed to engage in direct combat. If you don't want to believe me, believe the president of the United States. The US could storm in right this moment and take Kony along with a couple of tens of millions of lives of innocent children. But they don't. You know why? Because they know better, and you should to. Is this really what you're supporting?
EDIT - 10/3/2012: I know MANY of you are trying to perpetuate the idea that KONY 2012 is about the non-violent destruction of Kony's army, however, that is ridiculously unrealistic. One of Kony 2012's slogans is "stop at nothing". The implication is that Invisible Children will stop at nothing to have Kony prosecuted. While the idea is romantic and pulls on your heart strings, the amount of bloodshed that would occur is extremely gut wrenching.
Simply put, the if the KONY 2012 organizers are really "stopping at nothing", as they so disgustingly put it, I am in no doubt that the whole of South Sudan and millions of people will be killed in bloodshed. As evident in the campaign slogan alone, KONY 2012 has a sickening and wrong approach. Do I have a better approach to the situation in South Sudan? Yes I do. Read on.
#5 - think: Where do i stand?
I am in firm belief that Joseph Kony is a monster and killer, he is a gigantic problem, however, I do not believe he is the biggest problem in South Sudan right now. No where CLOSE. It is extremely disheartening because no matter what decision is made, lives will be lost. However, I believe there needs to be a two pronged approach towards this problem.
FIRSTLY, we need to realize that the inherent problems in South Sudan are much worse than Kony. The OPPORTUNITY COST of spending millions and billions of dollars on the prosecution of Kony will not only lead to South Sudan decimated by military intervention, but more importantly, those billions of dollars could be helping South Sudan much larger scale problems. I hate to say it, but compared to the inherent infrastructural lackings within South Sudan, Kony is naught but a small itch in the bottom of South Sudan.
SECONDLY, we need to realize that things are bad in South Sudan. Shall I name several problems? (source: www.southernsudanmedicaljournal.com/assets/files/misc/SHHS.pdf)
1) Highest maternity death rate in the world, at 2,053.9 per 100,000 live births.
2) Tribal cleansing and killings within South Sudan kill 120,000 people in one month. (source: http://www.sudantribune.com/Over-120-000-displaced-in-South,41356) You need to realize that Kony is the LEAST of Sudan's worries right now, that number is a thousandfold larger than what Kony can kill in a month.
3) South Sudan has three hospitals. Yes. You read that correctly, a country of South Sudan's size only has three registered hospitals. Imagine the amount of neglect that is going on, the millions of lives that could be saved if the KONY 2012 money went to the building of hospitals. Infrastructure expenditure is the most reliable form of aid. Charity Navigator has a ton of information about charities in South Sudan that are dedicated to this cause.
While I am not saying that Kony musn't be stopped, I am arguing that South Sudan is not at a predisposed position to deal with Kony right now. There are a thousand more issues that kill a thousand times more lives. I am in firm belief that a combination of medical aid in the form of infrastructure and the stopping of tribal killings will save a millionfold (literally) more lives than the extremely improbable hypothetical of the prosecution of Kony.
6 - A final conclusion
Wikipedia has, for such large pages, at least 50 reliable sources from universities and other acclaimed scholarly journals. I challenge you to find a page better cited. Wikipedia is unreliable for those tiny articles that about 5 people in the world is truly an expert about, and this again shows the bandwagon mentality of the inapt in thinking that Wikipedia cannot be trusted.
Was not the founding fathers of so many nations seen as such an evil being? Did the American founding fathers not slaughter, pillage and kill in order to create their Utopian society? Did Lenin not wage war against about 5 different armies and factions to reorganize Russia and improve its infrastructure and industry by a factor of 100 years? Did Mao not knock 50 years off China's state as a dark vortex of doom?
Machiavelli said "Hence it comes about that all armed Prophets have been victorious, and all unarmed Prophets have been destroyed." In a struggle for whatever ideal, sacrifices are inevitable, be it resources, wealth, a life or even entire armies. One that lives in a world that believes lives saved are always for the better is not only delusional but grossly misunderstands the workings of humanity.
Neither am I convinced that Kony is a Messiah for his people, alike to Mao or Lenin. However, the general ignorance at this topic, and the uproar it brought about is severely disheartening for one who sincerely wishes to love all humanity.
This cesspool of ignorance cannot continue. I am for an opposition to Kony, as every thesis requires and will have an antithesis. Please, however, make it intelligent.
Joseph Kony and Crowdsourced Intervention - Jack McDonald, Kings of War - McDonald, of the Department of War Studies at King’s College London, writes about the challenges of cooperation between states in Central Africa, and about what role public opinion should have in conflict management and military affairs.
New addition: Solving War Crimes With Wristbands: The Arrogance of ‘Kony 2012’ – Kate Cronin-Furman & Amanda Taub, the Atlantic – Cronin-Furman and Taub are lawyers with expertise in international law and politics. They are critical of the KONY 2012 campaign’s focus on awareness, arguing that it may “displace specific solutions to these very complicated problems.”
Invisible Children founders posing with guns: an interview with the photographer – Elizabeth Flock, Washington Post – An interview with the woman who took the controversial photo of the founders of IC holding guns with the SPLA. Also quotes IC’s response to this photo.
Joseph Kony is not in Uganda (and other complicated things) – Michael Wilkerson, Foreign Policy – Wilkerson is a PhD candidate who has, importantly, lived and worked in Uganda. He’s concerned about the contents of the KONY 2012 film.
Stop #Kony2012. Invisible Children’s campaign of infamy – Angelo Opi-aiya Izama – Izama is a Ugandan journalist who says that to “call the campaign a misrepresentation is an understatement” and that the campaign is “disempowering” to African voices.
Kony2012; My response to Invisible Children’s campaign – Rosebell Kagumire – Kagumire is an award-winning Ugandan journalist and holds a Masters in Media, Peace and Conflict Studies from the University for Peace. In her video, she says: “The war is much more complex than one man called Joseph Kony.”
Joseph Kony 2012: growing outrage in Uganda over film – Mike Pflanz, The Telegraph – Pflanz sums up the Ugandan concerns about the campaign. He quotes Fred Opolot, spokesman for the Ugandan government, expressing the government’s concerns about the campaign.
Questions We Can Ask About Kony 2012 - Meg Nanson – I’m trying to keep my links to major publications, well-known journalists, and blogs written by those with expertise in the issues, but I feel that this is worth reading. Nanson is the founder of an NGO, and although her work is not linked to Africa, this post lists important questions that I’d encourage you to consider.
Thank you for reading, and please share this blog with everyone, along with all the blogs I have listed above. Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with me, people have the right to both sides of the story. Peace, and share in the fight for knowledge.
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