If Jason Russell, one of Invisible Children’s founders, intended to be a household name then he succeeded by anybody’s standards with his March 5, 2012 release of the now viral video Kony 2012. On the Left, they are asking whether Invisible Children is a non-profit devoted to trying to solve a humanitarian crisis or is it really about evangelizing? On the Right, Reid Smith of American Spectator, believes this organization is just more guilt assuaging white man’s burden Liberal imperialism, pretending to be humanitarian.
As I write somewhere between 36 and fifty million have watched the 30 minute video titled Kony 2012. This video is accused of misrepresenting the facts while others warn that this emotion tugging video may actually make things worse. There is a website http://www.kony2012-is-a-scam.org because many people believe that the group Invisible Children is using the Kony saga as a way to personally enrich themselves.
Foreign Policy online notes that Joseph Kony is nolonger in Uganda and hasn’t been since 2006. Some believe Kony may already be dead. Intead of thousands of children kidnapped into his army, the Lord’s Resistence Army (LRA) now is thought to number only a few hundred soldiers.
These issues are among those that make detractors of the Invisible Children Movement question why now? That gets into questions about the groups finances. In the video they ask you to get involved and send in $30 dollars for a bracelet and a Stop Kony kit and people question where the money goes.
Russell has stated that about one third of the money goes to Ugandans. Another third goes to administration, and one third goes to film making. Sarah Pulliam Bailey on Christianity Today notes that this, “raises questions about advocacy, media attention, and how money should be spent to fight injustices.” Grant Oyston an Acadia University ( Canada ) student on a Tumblr page, notes that Invisible Children supports the Ugandan army, itself guily of raping and looting from its citizens.
Looking at the website, which today has some defences of these accusations, other than comments I have seen Russell made at Liberty University, there is little that would indicate that this is stealth Christian evangelizing movement. Even if it is at some point we must trust our children to be capable of deciding what they choose to believe for themselves without our interference.
The financial questions and not having an independant auditor as well as why in a world that is full of bad actors and in Uganda both the government and Kony seem to fit that bill, that now, right this minute, we must launch a movement to get our government to intervene to get this bad actor, who no one has seen since 2006, and in addition may actually already be dead.
But on the other hand the West ignored the genocide in Rwanda because governments mostly make decisions based on financial gain not humanitarian concerns no mater how much we wish it were different. For those of us who grew up in the sixties how much of Lyndon Johnson’s other war, his War on Poverty was just such a young people’s crusade based on a healthy dose of naivete, honest desire to help, and only having half the information we needed.
Along with an honest desire to make a difference in the world we had some sense of guilt for being white in a nation that professed to be a place where all men are created equal but in a large part was built by slaves as well. Do we see ourselves in this movement and the perception on our part we were duped back then and that causes a sense of misplaced anger?
There is part of me that finds the controversy over Invisible Children has more to do with our own jaded attitudes than it does some intentional wrong designed to line his pockets that Jason Russell had in mind. We have reached the point in our society where we seem to want to find the worst motives in everyone. It seems to be much more rewarding to say gotcha and point our fingers in triumph. It satisifies our rage at the destruction of our ideals in our youth to have an incredibly selfish desire to show our children their heroes have feet of clay because of the experiences of our youth.
In an era of celebrity, Jason Russell hit the big time. Because of that I see a lot of stretching to find some reason for this to fit our idea of corrupt pocket lining motives, because we want to see our world as essentially corrupt and that even what some believe are good deeds really in the end have selfish motives.
Show me some proof that isn’t just an opinion and really proves ill intent. Until then I would still like to think that some of the time people do things for essentially good reasons and that Jason Russell is only guilty of not knowing all he needed to know. Does anyone ?