Sunday, 25 March 2012

Stealth Evangelism and the “White Man's Burden”: A KONY 2012 Obitury

Behind the façade of naivity in the Invisible Children movement lies the dark heart of hidden religious evangelism.

Large scepticism leads to large understanding. Small scepticism leads to small understanding. No scepticism leads to no understanding.”
- Xi Zhi

Take up the White Man's burden--
Send forth the best ye breed--
Go bind your sons to exile
To serve your captives' need”
- Rudyard Kipling, ‘The White Man’s Burden’

If there is one good thing to come out of the KONY 2012 debacle, it’s the reaffirmation to people that they cannot trust everything they see and hear.

Launched on 5th March 2012 on YouTube, ‘KONY 2012’ is a video by the Invisible Children charity rallying people to unite in an attempt to bring the religious nutter and all-round douchebag Joseph Kony, leader of the child soldier-using Lord’s Resistance Army, to justice. As of today (at 3am in the morning) the video has garnered 85,021,580 views[1]; in short, more people have watched this video than there are people living in the United Kingdom at the moment. It’s a clear testament to the power social media has in rallying people to a cause; the video quickly went viral upon launch and garnered massive attention, turning creator Jason Russell into an overnight celebrity.

Yet ‘KONY 2012’ also shows the dark side of social media, as well as humanity’s herd instinct.

I’m not going to beat around the bush here; KONY 2012 is a terrible movement, and it should not be supported. There, that’s me nailing my colours to the fucking wall. This is a dangerous cause, ladies and gentlemen, and it’s doing more harm than good to the people of Uganda. That I think it is necessary to write this blog genuinely saddens me because I thought that people, by now, were aware of the faults in what Invisible Children does. Yet apparently this isn’t the case. This cause still attracts support, despite it being extremely dangerous. Why so, you might ask?

Let me give you the brief rundown.

Invisible Children openly fund the Ugandan Army, justifying this by arguing that this armed force is the only one willing to pursue Kony[2]. This is despite the fact that direct military intervention puts the child soldiers their supposed to be saving at considerable risk. This is despite the fact that the Ugandan Army has been accused of raping and stealing from the people they are supposed to protect, despite the fact that they have been accused of using child soldiers themselves in this war and others[3], despite the fact that direct military intervention has been shown to be both prone to failure and result in heavy repercussions on the people of Uganda[4].

These are not smart people. Sometimes doing something is worse than doing nothing; Invisible Children is a visible testament to this.

Let’s look at another very uncomfortable fact for the supporters of KONY 2012; Kony is old news. Yes, I just said that. He is irrelevant. He’s not been in Uganda since 2006. The best reports available say he’s currently starving to death somewhere in the Congo[5]. Hell, some unsubstantiated reports say the bastard’s already dead. He has not caused problems for Uganda in over half a decade; in as turbulent a continent as Africa, Invisible Children might as well be advocating a witch-hunt against ghosts. And make no mistake, this is a witch hunt. This ‘charity’ is targeting a solitary terrorist figure and not to beat around the bush, bringing Kony to justice is going to change pretty much fuck all. The bigger war criminal in Uganda is currently sitting in the president’s office, and I don’t see them organising an international manhunt against him.

But then, Invisible Children are pretty flawed themselves.

Looking at their financial records for 2011, you will see that only 31% of the funds people give them actually goes towards the cause they are apparently putting forward; the rest goes to ‘admin’ and their completely outrageous travel expenses[6]. By their own admission, these guys are foolish idealists who had no idea of the problems that Uganda faced up until 2003; they originally travelled to Africa to film a documentary on Sudan[7]. They have shown time and time again to have no grasp of the complicated and convoluted situation they are trying to solve. And to hammer the final nail into the coffin, they are liars. They misconstrue facts in order to make the situation seem worse. As has already been shown, the LRA has not been active in Uganda since 2006. In the KONY 2012 propaganda video they are showing you videos from 2003 and passing them off as current events.

You cannot trust these people.

Their motives seem pure, if overly naïve. But behind this façade of a secular movement designed to bring down an international war criminal lies the dark heart of what has been called ‘stealth evangelism’. And here is where my interest in this story comes to the forefront. You see, in 2009 Invisible Children accepted donations of around $135,000 from a group called the National Christian Foundation, an organisation that works in conjunction with a group known as ‘The Family’. These guys actively campaign in Uganda to bring about a bill that will make homosexuality punishable by death or life in prison[8].

That’s right, the guys behind KONY 2012 have ties to anti-gay religious hate groups. And this disgusting religious slant does not stop there.

Invisible Children’s ‘Director of Ideology’ Jedidiah Jenkins made it clear in a personal blog post that he considers homosexuality a sin, comparable to sexual addiction and masturbation[9]. I don’t even need to tell you why this is crazy, but let’s go back to this man’s job description; ‘Director of Ideology’? Fuck me, this shit is sounding more and more like a cult with every article I read on them. And that’s not even the last of it; Invisible Children again demonstrate their Christian Evangelist slant by the fact that Jason Russell, the co-founder of the charity who featured heavily throughout the KONY 2012 video, gave a lecture at the sinister Liberty University of Virginia and gave tips and tricks to young evangelists alongside such upstanding and lovely people as Rick Perry and revisionist ‘historian’ David Barton[10].

But then, Jason Russell himself is basically the epitome of everything that is wrong with his charity.

I mean, for one thing he recently got arrested for public masturbation[11].

And he’s given himself the nickname ‘Radical Russell’, also describing himself as the spunk-baby of Oprah, Steven Spielberg and Bono[12].

This guy is a class A douche-nozzle.

Jason Russell is in the process of carrying out what some have coined the “White Man’s Burden”. Here’s some idealistic American filmmaker who’s taken it upon himself to save Africa for the Africans, totally ignoring the fact that maybe Africans can deal with this shit by themselves without some foreign fuckwit with no understanding of the complexities of the situation barging in and causing more problems, all in the name of saving the day.

Invisible Children is dangerous. They do not deserve your money or support.

So before you splash out on one of their ‘Action Packs’, consider giving your money to a much more worthwhile charity. One that understands the complexities of Africa. One that doesn’t give your money to rapists and looters when it’s not paying it’s own bills. One that doesn’t accept money from groups that are actively seeking to slaughter homosexuals in Africa, that doesn’t have ties to maniacal evangelists.

Social media is an amazing thing. The Arab Spring is a testament to this. It can be used to rally people to causes that cross entire continents, connect people from all across the world.

But as one YouTube commenter puts it:

I think the whole kony2012 is nothing more than an experiment to see how dumb the modern youth is and how quickly they can become manipulated by propaganda.”

Please use your fucking brains and consider things with at least a bit of scepticism before you pledge your undying support to it. Or else your enthusiasm is open to being exploited by people such as Invisible Children.



  1. Replies
    1. Thank you for taking the time to add something so inspired and informed to this debate, Rob. Truly, I think that we are all so much more better off for having read what you have said.