Can Crowdsourcing Take Down A Warlord? Ctd: The Backlash

Andrew Sullivan —  Mar 8 2012 @ 7:55pm


The pushback against Invisible Childern's #Kony2012 campaign has been enormous, often featuring the above photo (by Glenna Gordon) of the organization's founders. Elizabeth Dickinson critiques the video:

[I]n recent years, the LRA has fractured hugely—in response to international efforts to go after Kony. In incredibly violent starts and stops, the group now rears its head in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Southern Sudan, and the Central African Republic. It actually hardly exists in Uganda anymore. Having been chased out by that country’s military, it has sought the more lawless terrain nearby. In the no man’s borderlands and the depths of the jungle, it continues to mete out victims. But it is not, by most analyses, a centralized organization anymore, or one that any leader’s removal could stop. We passed that point at least a decade ago. There are also a host of other problems with the facts in the video—including the number of children soldiers that the organization cites. (Responding to these critiques, the charity says it is only relying on UN figures.)

Mark Kersten thinks Invisible Children's implicit solution – stepped up US military involvement targeted at Joseph Kony personally – will only make matters worse:

In this context, it is worthwhile remembering that massive regional military solutions (Operations Iron Fist and Lightning Thunder most recently), with support from the US, have thus far failed to dismantle or "stop" the LRA. These failures have created serious and legitimate doubts that the ‘LRA question’ is one that can be resolved by military means. Incredibly, there is no mention in the film or the campaign that northern Ugandans are currently enjoying the longest period of peace since the conflict began in 1986. 

Ishaan Tharoor questions the video's framing:

It’d be churlish to rebuke Invisible Children for wanting to help those afflicted overseas, while moving tens of thousands of previously apathetic Americans (at least to hit the re-tweet button) at home. But there’s a thin, perilous line between the organization’s brand of righteousness and simple self-aggrandizement. The film makes little mention of ongoing activism by people in northern Uganda. I’m not the only one to feel a bit queasy about the film’s perhaps unintended, yet inescapable white man’s burden complex, with filmmaker-cum-protagonist Jason Russell framing the horrors wrought by Kony and the need to stop him through an overly precious discussion with his blonde, cherub-cheeked toddler son.

Katie J.M. Baker rounds up more backlash.