Opinion: A trending war on Joseph Kony

Seth Cohen

Seth Cohen

Seth Cohen is a senior magazine journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].

When President Obama announced in mid-October that he would deploy 100 U.S. military advisers to pursue the capture of Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army, the public’s reaction seemed like agreement.

You would think there would be a lot of backlash toward his administration, but the public majority didn’t hesitate to agree. People who opposed were those who clearly didn’t know much about the LRA.

In The Washington Post, Michele Bachmann criticized Obama on unnecessary foreign policy, while at the same time, admitting she knew little about the situation. Rush Limbaugh, who has been largely present in the media these past few days, also criticized the situation. His words were also fairly oblivious and ill-informed.

He called the LRA “Christians,” and to send American troops would mean Obama wanted to “wipe out” Christians in Sudan and Uganda. But like Bachmann, he said this without doing any further research.

Now, as of March 2012, a 30-minute documentary by the group Invisible Children, Inc. has the public well informed about Kony. The video has more than 71 million hits. People all around college campuses, work forces and anywhere else in the world are watching a video that seemingly captured the public’s eye once more for information that can’t turn eyes away.

“We want to do some epic things because our time on Earth is so short,” said Jason Russell, Invisible Children, Inc. co-founder and filmmaker, in an interview with ABC News, “Why not do this? Start here with Kony. Use him as the example of what injustice looks like in the world and then we’re going to move to the next one and the next one.”

The San Diego-based nonprofit organization uploaded the video “Kony 2012” to bring attention to Kony and the LRA. Many human rights groups have recognized for years that Kony has terrorized Africa. Russell said the goal is for the video to be a part of a campaign that includes an April 20th call for supporters to cover their hometowns with “Kony 2012” posters.

The video, however, has also raised some criticism. Activists have stressed their concerns about Invisible Children, Inc. manipulating the facts in order to promote a head-turning cause. In November, a foreign affairs article in The Washington Post stated there were tactics used by Invisible Children, Inc. and other not-for-profits working in the region that manipulated facts for strategic purposes.

They also criticized the exaggeration of LRA abductions, murders and the emphatic attention to LRA’s use of innocent children as soldiers.

Jedidiah Jenkins, director of ideology for Invisible Children, Inc. said on Wednesday the number of abductions the charity uses is not exaggerated. He also said the numbers are the same as the ones used by Human Rights Watch and the United Nations.

In any case, yes, there is criticism and there is doubt about how the video was produced, but I’m looking at the silver lining. Over the past few days, the worldwide public is tremendously aware of the cause.

Joseph Kony is a man who needs to be taken to justice, and if millions of people believe that, then the world — as we know it — can slowly, and tolerantly, become a better place.