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Thursday, March 8, 2012

What's up with that Kony 2012 Video?

Back in October of 2011, the Obama administration made news by announcing that it would be sending one hundred military advisors to Uganda to deal with one of the most evil men in the world - Joseph Kony.  It was a puzzling decision when we were already engaged in military actions in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya at the time.

Here is an excerpt from the White House letter on the subject, written to Speaker John Boehner:
In furtherance of the Congress's stated policy, I have authorized a small number of combat equipped U.S. forces to deploy to central Africa to provide assistance to regional forces that are working toward the removal of Joseph Kony from the battlefield. I believe that deploying these U.S. Armed Forces furthers U.S. national security interests and foreign policy and will be a significant contribution toward counter LRA efforts in central Africa.
More than anything else, the move and subsequent announcement seemed bizarre.

Less than six months later, a YouTube video pops up called Kony 2012 by a charity that goes by the moniker, "Invisible Children." After just two days, the video garnered more than 25 million views. Some sources are asking questions about the group's funding.

At first blush, the video comes off as extremely noble and calls for a mass, international movement to remove Kony by December of 2012 while leveraging the new social media in order to do it. As you watch though, other questions arise. Who or what is really behind the success of this video? What made this one take off so quickly? Who are the producers of the video? Is it wise for them to be touting the International Criminal Court as the final authority? Is there a political agenda that involves arresting Kony at around the same time as the elections? Is there any connection between the Obama administration's sending troops there and the timing of this video's release? Was there any communication or coordination between those troops and the producers of this film? Part of the video features what appears to be members of "Invisible Children" in the Uganda war zone. Were U.S. troops nearby?

This is clearly a concerted effort to use social media in much the same way as it was used in the Arab Spring uprisings and the OWS protests. In this particular case, it's being used against a very evil man but what if it works? Is it a model that could be used against political enemies instead of just evil men? Also, what's up with the circular peace sign used by these protesters? It's a left wing symbol, which indicates a left wing movement, potentially. Video of young people raising clenched fists can be seen as well. Again, that too is a symbol of left wing unity and solidarity.

Another interesting aspect to Kony is that he is not a Muslim. With the increase in persecution of Christians all over the Middle East taking place at the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood, why this monumental effort to focus on Joseph Kony? Again, I cannot stress enough that this guy is one evil dude but what is going on here? Is this international community organizing? Is this a civilian international security force?

If this movement is an attempt solely to remove Kony, it'd be a very good thing. If it's an attempt to use his arrest as a political springboard, it quickly becomes something else entirely. If mobilizing millions of people all over the world results in granting the ICC more power, the long-term consequences could be quite dangerous.

Is this an attempt to open Pandora's box by doing so in the name of a good cause?

Coincidentally, at about the same time the Obama administration's letter to Boehner was issued, a film about the heroic story of Sam Childers - starring Gerard Butler - was released. Childers, a man with an ugly past, made saving the children of Sudan and Uganda his life's work. The courage of Childers is beyond immeasurable. Known as the Machine Gun Preacher, he converted to Christianity and built orphanages for Kony's victims. The work he's done in the region is the stuff of legend. I wrote about it at the time here and here.

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