Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Joseph Kony 2012
Kony sources condensed:
A group of blond haired, blue-eyed southern California surfer boys from advocacy group Invisible Children got more than 30 million people to watch a half-hour video on a 20-year-old conflict in Central Africa—in just two days. But, the fallout has been some tough criticism charging that the group is raising awareness about a conflict that has essentially wound down since its height in 2003-4. Detractors piled on that Invisible Children spends only a third of its revenues on advocacy programs and not enough money goes to actually helping people. But in a backlash to the backlash, other African experts and human rights advocates today say the widespread negativity is unfounded.
"The argument now is that Kony and the LRA are no longer this massive threat," Cameron Hudson, former Africa director at the George W. Bush National Security Council, told Yahoo News Thursday, referring to Joseph Kony, the founder of the rebel Lords Resistance Army (LRA). The conflict involves the Ugandan army and the LRA which is thought to be responsible for thousands of children having gone missing.
Hudson, now policy director at the U.S. Holocaust Museum, stressed that he doesn't share the critique that the group is no longer harmful and he praised Invisible Children for creating a campaign that reached 30 million people. "I just saw PDiddy Tweet about this thing," he said.
Hudson believes the criticism is mostly sour grapes. "I think that these guys are getting mercilessly picked apart by a bunch of intellectual elites who spend their days tweeting but never trending," he said. "If their aim is to raise awareness, they have done that in spades."
Invisible Children is a California-based advocacy group whose founders were San Diego college students who went to south Sudan and northern Uganda in 2003 at the height of the conflict. On Monday, Invisible Children released a powerful, slickly produced half-hour video on the clash, seeking a half million viewers. By Thursday morning they were well on their way, with over 30 million viewers. Their viral tag lines: #Kony2012 and #Stop Kony, along with Uganda and Invisible Children, were top 10 trending topics around the country.
"Where you live shouldn't determine whether you live #KONY2012", the group posted to Twitter Thursday.
Michael Poffenberger, executive director of Resolve, an advocacy organization that works with Invisible Children agrees this is nothing but a good thing. "You have to recognize that for more than two decades [Joseph] Kony and the LRA have been perpetrating horrific atrocities in remote parts of Central Africa, and nobody has been paying attention," he told Yahoo News in an interview Thursday.
Poffenberger said he and the founders of Invisible Children became obsessed with the Lords Resistance Army, its founder Joseph Kony and the plight of thousands of African children disappearing in the conflict back in 2003-2004. "They created this initial film that took off," he said. "And they have been connecting with an audience. The majority of their supporters - and they have 100s of thousands of supporters--are millennials." And he believes this new millennial audience could help foment political change.
In May 2010, members of Invisible Children and Resolve were in the Oval Office as President Obama signed legislation--the Lords Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Recovery Act. The bill, originally spearheaded by former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin), ended up with the support or sponsorship of 267 members of Congress--more than any other piece of Africa legislation in history, said Sarah Margon, a former Feingold staff member.