KONY 2012: As Effective a Grassroots Campaign As Any

The internet has struck again and “slacktavists” everywhere are lapping it up. Here I am, a suburban white boy in southern California writing about horrifying acts in Uganda. Damned if this social media doesn’t work.

The KONY 2012 movement has hit critical mass, social media saturation. The interwebs–a series of tubes–was brought to bear on yet another injustice in the world firing everything it has at one guy whose name looks good on a bumper sticker during an election year.

Joseph Kony of Uganda and LRA infamy has finally gotten his 15 minutes. Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and even the defunct and malfunctioning LinkedIn are abuzz with the activities of Kony and his Kony(hort)–it’ll catch on. After years of hard work and perseverance, he is finally getting some recognition. Blood diamonds, starvation, suffering, and more glitzy and glamorous revolutionaries and dictators have stood in his way of infamy, but no more. Joseph Kony has arrived, and damn if he doesn’t have the best advertising in the biz. Any press is good press, right?

Thanks to one minidoc passed around the internet like a prepubescent sex slave–too soon?–everyone from Berkley trust fund babies and armchair activists and Monday morning Christians are spreading the atrocities of the LRA and this Kony fellow in Uganda. Why, you can’t walk into a Starbucks without noticing the titillating buzz about the video.

I have not seen the video. I refuse to watch the video on the grounds that it will not change my stance on crimes against humanity; they are crimes after all, and I went to public school and possess a library card and have this here internet connection. I know what atrocity looks like. I’m an American and I like to think we’ve got more than one entry in the Sportscenter Atrocity NOT Top 10 Plays of All-time.

Gathered from the facts that have been regurgitated to me by those who have fallen victim to the grassroots onslaught of horrifying facts I have gathered three things: Joseph Kony has recruited soldier boys–not Soulja Boy, sold teenage girls as sex slaves, and killed a shit ton of people. Number two, the US did nothing about this in the past and the current campaign on the net is to raise his status to a point that the government can’t ignore it anymore due to civilian pressure. Three, that people are always on the lookout for yet another ideological flavor of the week.

I don’t have the facts to back it up, but I would bet that if I polled the first 100 people I could find on the street, they could not tell me where Uganda is on a map. I would go one further that they could not tell me anything about what the LRA is up to besides what has been given to them by this short video campaign on the internet. You can’t find the country on this here globe, yet you are about to shower me in lathery facts about the horrifying things happening there.

This is yet another cause in a long line of causes that become to trendy to ignore. Free Nelson Mandela. Peace in Israel. End Apartheid. Legalize Pot. Pepper spraying college kids. We are the 99 Percent. Dispatch Idi Amin. Stop the civil war in Somalia. Women’s Right to Choose. Real Men Don’t Buy Women. No H8. Find Nicole Brown’s Real Killer. This is just a smattering of movements and causes that come and go. It’s like everyone has a rail car and they just wanna be on the train.

Now we’ve got the guile up of the people. Soccer moms, aunts, uncles, and all your pseudo-ideological friends have posted this link on your wall. They are horrified, disgusted, revolted, and outraged…then they check Yahoo for the latest picture of a drunk starlet. This story will appear on the cover of TIME, if it hasn’t already, and it will sit next to the tabloids and play the straight man in the newsstand version of an Abbott and Costello routine.

“Who’s in Uganda?”

“No. Who’s in the Democratic Republic of Congo. What is in Uganda.”

“Well, then What is in South Sudan?”

“No. What is in Uganda. Who is in the Democratic Republic of Congo.”

“I don’t give a damn!”

“Ah, you mean our shortstop in Central African Republic.” You see where this is going?

Haven’t gotten your personal fill of anti-atrocity, pseudo-activism? Wait just one more week and you’ll be invited to the Facebook event, “KONY Cover The Night” in your town. Get all your closest friends together at your local independent coffee shop and once the sun sets you can vandalize your town with deliberately orchestrated advertisements disguised as a movement like a thrift store Banksy along with the rest of the neo-aware country. Then post the photos on Facebook to show you care more than the next schlub ignoring the issue and letting these heinous crimes go on unfettered.

In the next couple of weeks you’ll be able to get your KONY 2012 T-shirts and your Death to Kony “LiveStrong” knock-off bracelets. Go for the quadfecta and get the whole package: T-shirt, bracelet, hat, and tote bag. Don’t spend even one moment without showing your support for hunting down and raping this bastard while you text your girlfriends about what Sheila said to you Saturday night at the club. Order your Chai latte, but do it shoving this fad down someone else’s throat like a billboard for effective internet campaigning.

What Kony and the LRA have committed is no more heinous than what has gone on in the Motherland, the forgotten continent of Africa, for decades and even hundreds of years. You can’t throw a rock in Africa without hitting someone with an AK-47 and an agenda. Every asshole with a Napoleon complex is a part of a liberation front, a revolutionary coalition, or is championing the overthrow of one corrupt government for another. Kony is just the guy that, this week, has garnered the most attention because of a great campaign thought up by a dozen Mad Men in a smoke choked room with a whiteboard and enough Scotch to put down Charlie Sheen. Nothing more.

Martin Luther King Jr said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat against justice everywhere.” I suppose this should have been enough for the government to take action some eight years ago when the request for action was made. I guess we only quote MLK in February during Black History Month, but it’s March and the campaign is just now taking hold.

(left in a check presenter at work with the tip for a coworker) I was ready to vote for him in the GOP primaries as an EXTREME independent until I saw the minidoc.

I suppose the argument I have heard most often over this comes from two schools of thought: “It is not our problem,” and “It is our responsibility.” Both are flawed schools testing below state averages. Sure, this doesn’t affect us, but this is an international planet and we are morally obligated to help. Why this? Why now? Because the campaign is clever and will look good on a T-shirt; hell, it’s even got a logo. I am just wondering where the support comes from. Is it genuine? Hardly. You’ll know you’ve jumped the shark when Nancy Grace gets her claws in this one; she sticks to missing white girls, so if she latches on to this there’s no telling how fast it’ll will take over the Today Show and Fox & Friends by month’s end. Hell, you’ve got me writing this, so kudos to you. It is all fabricated and designed, though. Tug at someone’s heart strings and they will play you a lullaby, but in two months we will be on to the new thing once the movement runs out of steam. Don’t believe me? When’s the last time you checked in on the 99%?

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2 thoughts on “KONY 2012: As Effective a Grassroots Campaign As Any

  1. I call it armchair ‘activism’ – in the sense that I doubt many are going to physically do much about it besides tweeting and posting it on Facebook. The worse thing is that I have been to Uganda and the country has much more pressing issues… no-one even mentioned Kony.

    1. Thanks for commenting. Armchair, indeed. I decided to just write an article about the tendency to jump on a cause bandwagon and not the actual issue. I felt I could not speak intelligently about the actual issue of Joseph Kony and the LRA. I just saw the campaign making it’s way across the net and just felt that much of the support was cloakative. I am no authority on Uganda, so I decided to stick to what I knew. The campaign is quite successful. There is no doubting that. I just think that if people really cared about what was going on in Africa and the issues they are facing from country to country then they would not need Bono or Angelina Jolie to tell them to care. They would already know. People watch a 30 minute doc, and they are now experts on Uganda and the LRA willing to regurgitate everything they were fed. Thanks again for commenting and liking the post. I hope you share this with people and we can keep you coming back for more articles. We are always writing.

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