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Social Media Scam Alert: Top Ten Ways to Tell Kony is Phony

March 15, 2012

This article by Bruce Dixon is re-posted from Black Agenda Report.

Thanks to relentless promotion by Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, Bloomberg News, ABC, CBS, Oprah, celebrities and politicians of both corporate parties, along with right wing church groups and foundations, the Kony 2012 video has “gone viral.”  Viewed on YouTube more than a hundred million times by now, it paints a vivid and simple picture, clear enough, its narrator says, for a five year old.

Joseph Kony, the YouTube video tells us, is a bad guy in Uganda, a lawless warlord leading something called the Lord’s Resistance Army, which kidnaps, enslaves and murders innocent children by the tens of thousands. Just why Kony does this is unclear, but we’re told the Ugandan government would gladly shut him down and bring him to justice if only the US would provide the advanced weapons, sophisticated tracking gear, military training and the boots on the ground to help get it done. To make this happen, all that Kony 2012’s promoters ask of us is to help spread “awareness” of Uganda’s “invisible” child soldiers by facebooking, tweeting and repeating the Kony 2012 video, and by emailing influential politicians and the one-name celebrities like Oprah, Bono, Rhianna, Cosby and Lady Gaga (OK, Lady Gaga is two names) to whom they listen. The Kony 2012 video aims to bring the criminal child-enslaving Ugandan warlord to justice by enlisting tens of millions of us little people in making Kony’s name an odious household word around the planet, after which Washington DC will stretch forth its military arm to bring Kony, alive if possible, before the International Criminal Court for trial and punishment.

Almost everything is wrong with this simple picture, from the missing histories and hidden motives of storytellers and players to false statements of processes and problems real and unreal on both sides of the Atlantic. In fact, Kony 2012 is not a search for justice. Kony 2012 is a corporate-style PR and military psy-ops campaign, a cynical hoax engineered to justify US and Western military intervention to control the incredibly lucrative oil, mineral, water and strategic resources of the heart of Africa.  The video tells viewers not to study history, but to make it.  Kony 2012 does not promote “awareness “. It relies on and promotes ignorance and smug racism.   Black Agenda Report is far from the first or the only news source to point that Kony 2012 is a warmongering hoax, and we certainly won’t be the last.  As our contribution, we here offer our top ten reasons why Kony is phony.

Reason #10: Invisible Children is funded by a core of notorious right wing donors including the Discovery Institute, which Bruce Wilson fingered in a March 11 Talk 2 Action piece as the leading funder of efforts to promote the replacement of biological sciences in schools with “intelligent design,”along with the Caster Foundation and the National Christian Foundation, all prominent backers of anti-gay referenda, politicians and initiatives in the United States and around the world. The Ugandan regime of Yoweri Museveni is a favorite of theirs for having passed legislation making it a criminal offense to be gay, punishable by a life sentence.  Credible African journalists like Keith Harmon Snow have also alleged that Invisible Children’s white and male  leaders have direct personal connections to US intelligence agencies.

Reason #9: Invisible Children and Kony 2012 don’t tell us that the Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni, one of the “good guys” in the Kony 2012 universe, shot his own way to power using an army that included child soldiers, according to the same International Criminal Court they want to haul Kony before. Bruce Wilson’s excellent March 8 Talk 2 Action article “Invisible Children” Co-founder (KONY 2012) Hints It’s About Jesus, and Evangelizing links to numerous sources for this and much else. You’d never know it from Kony 2012, Fox News or the New York Times, but Museveni is a brutal, murderous dictator, kletopcrat and genocidaire whom the International Criminal Court accuses of using thousands of child soldiers during its genocidal plunder of neighboring Congo, where Uganda and six other African nations invaded and killed an estimated 5 to 6 million Congolese in the late 1990s and early 2000s, a larger death toll than anyplace on planet Earth since the second world war.

Like his colleagues in enighboring Burundi and Rwanda, Ugandan dictator Yoweri Museveni maintains a ridiculously large army for a country so small, which it rents out as “peaceckeepers” for whatever dirty work Washington needs done. Right now ten or twenty thousand Ugandan soldiers are occupying parts of Somalia to keep that country from assembling a central government of its own unfriendly to Western interests.

Reason #8: Invisible Children and the Kony 2012 video also don’t tell us that Uganda’s Museveni replaced a president and rival general from the Acholi region of northern Uganda, the same ethnic group as Kony’s LRA. The Ugandan government has evicted hundreds of thousands of Acholi from their lands and confined them to desperate and squalid refugee camps since 1996. Kony and his LRA did commit monstrous crimes in previous decades, but by now are said to number only a few hundred combatants. Kony may not even have set foot in Uganda in years, but he and the LRA are useful as convenient bogeymen to justify the continued dispossession of Uganda’s Acholi, whose chief misfortunes besides the LRA itself, are having produced rivals to Museveni and living at the edge of a resource-rich region that stretches across Uganda’s borders for hundreds of miles into Congo and Sudan.

Reason #7: Invisible Children and Kony 2012 are lying when they attribute the disappearance of 30,000 missing northern Ugandan children to the LRA. The truth is that some of the child soldiers the Ugandan government used in neighboring Congo were abducted in northern Uganda, nobody knows how many, and a large but unknown portion of that region’s civilian dead, many of them Acholi, perished at the hands of Uganda’s government, which always had far more firepower and resources than the LRA, and just as little regard for the property and lives of innocent civilians and their children.

Reason #6: Threats of massive foreign intervention into civil conflict do not bring adversaries to the table. Instead they make it unnecessary for those on whose side the foreigners intervene to negotiate at all, and leave nothing for the other side to negotiate over. Uganda needs an end to violence, and resources devoted to building its civil society, not more military aid.

Reason #5: The United States, the other “good guy” in Kony 2012’s imaginary world invented the modern African child soldier in the late1970s and early 80s, so their commitment to “ending child soldiers” is a bit suspect. Apartheid South Africa was bordered Portuguese ruled Angola and Mozambique, with their own vicious versions of apartheid until 1974. In that year, despite massive US and NATO aid, the Portuguese army rebelled, refused to continue fighting against African independence and overthrew its own government at home. White South Africa was deeply threatened by having independent black regimes now at its borders. So, with US funding it helped create and arm “contra” guerilla forces, UNITA in Angolan and RENAMO in Mozambique to burn schools and clinics, to mine orchards and roads, commit mass rapes, mutilations and murders, terrorizing citizens in their own country. Lacking foreign troops or popular support , but with US aid and plenty of firepower, UNITA and RENAMO hit upon the innovation of kidnapping and enslaving child soldiers to carry out their despicable mission. Both were effusively praised and lavishly funded by Barack Obama’s favorite president Ronald Reagan, and their leaders welcomed at the White House.

In his chilling 2003 essay, Barefoot,Sick, Hungry and Afraid – The Real US Policy in Africa, my colleague Glen Ford described how the chaos and social demoralization spread by Western financed armies of nihilistic child soldiers made them an ideal tool for use in whenever the West needs to delay or prevent the emergence of African civil societies and central governments which might succumb to popular demands to develop a country’s resources for its people rather than to benefit foreign interests. This strategy was employed in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Congo, Rwanda, Uganda and elsewhere. “Failed states” infested by murderous child soldiers in the 80s and 90s proved to be incredibly good business environments for (mostly) Western extraction of hundreds of billions worth of timber, gold, diamonds, coltan and other vital African resources, and ultimately excuses to come in and install Rwandan and Ugandan-style dictatorships.

Reason #4: Depending on movie stars and celebrities is the precise opposite of building the backbone and habits of a vibrant and self-aware civic movement. This kind of so-called activism reinforcing a slavish worship of celebrity culture, acceptance of corporate marketers who tell us what to eat, wear, covet, consume or shun and convince us it was our idea, not theirs. The real deal is that FaceBook, Twitter and much of crowd-sourced culture are fundamentally the master’s tools, clicktivism, not activism. It’s never easy, and may not even be possible for slaves to free themselves with the master’s tools. That ain’t wht they were designed for. Most of those forwarding and FaceBooking the Kony 2012 video, including some of the celebrities, as Keith Harmon Snow points out, probably can’t find Uganda on a map.

Reason #3: When both corporate parties, the entire corporate media universe, a constellation of celebrities and movie stars, all the right wing and much of the establishment liberal church along with the whole bag of bipartisan foreign policy experts agree on the need for decisive military action, you can bet the course of wisdom and truth is just about always in the opposite direction. Republicans and Democrats voted to send troops to Vietnam, and only a single congresswoman voted against war in Afghanistan.

Reason #2: Kony 2012 and the campaign to keep US boots on the ground in Central Africa are all about the oil. And the diamonds. And the gold. And the coltan, and the water. Uganda’s northern region contains vast oil reserves, and neighboring Congo is the source of most of the planet’s coltan, a highly conductive compound used in every cell phone, computer, aircraft, automobile, missile, GPS or other electronic device on earth.

Reason #1: It’s all about white people, the white West and their First Black President doing their imperial and colonial thing, running the planet for their benefit at everybody else’s expense and feeling good about it, saving hapless & hopeless black Africans from themselves. Such a deal. If they wanted to take Kony down, they could have done it last week, last year, five or ten years ago. If they do take him down it’ll be cause their Kony tool has outlived its usefulness, and maybe they need to plant a big wet sloppy kiss on Museveni and his gang, a bigger and more important bag of fools and tools.

The good news about Kony 2012 is that unlike the similar “Save Darfur” scam, many voices have been quick to express skepticism, disbelief and flat out ridicule of the Kony 2012 hoax.

The bad news is that US corporate media, Republicans, Democrats, the Obama White House and State Department as well as rabid Tea Party senators and congress creatures are all permanent cheerleaders for war and empire. So few of Kony 2012’s many critics will get on the TV stations that caused Invisible Children’s video to “go viral.” Corporate media don’t cover Africa or the actions of the US in Africa. Thus the Pentagon’s social media propaganda shops are free to spin and promote whatever fables they require to obtain our disinformed consent for the next oil and resource war — in Africa.

Mark Twain said a hundred years ago — talking about genocidal Western exploitation of the Congo, in fact, that a lie can flash across the world in the time the truth takes to put its boots on. But the boots are on. The truth is out here, and you are responsible for helping it overtake the lie.

So forward the link to this article to your friends. Put it on your FaceBook page. Tweet it and repeat it and send it to as many of your family, friends, colleagues, associates, bosses, employees and acquaintances as you can. Tomorrow, when we record a YouTube video of it, do the same with that. The cure for fake “awareness” campaigns that justify US military intervention in Africa is the truth. Don’t be used. Do study history, Africa’s and your own. And do make history.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. March 15, 2012 2:22 pm

    I was waiting for you to discuss Kony 2012. I’d written a piece about it which is no where near as erudite as yours. For one thing, Jason’s personal manner is so schmaltzy and bombastic that it almost seems like he’s making joke out of it. He comes off as a poor little rich kid who went to Uganda to superimpose his “savior-god” complex. I’m horrified that he engages his own son in the video, teaching him to parrot “bad guy” propaganda. It almost seems like saying we don’t agree with the method is akin to saying we support Kony. I’m alarmed that he knows so little about the history of Uganda (HuffPo had a good article on that) and makes such blatant demands.

    I hate the way he belittles Jacob, his “friend” too. I’m not even sure what Invisible Children hopes to achieve or what they want us to do. It’s rah-rah cheerleading that repeats subliminal sound bites to incite the masses. IC doesn’t understand the big picture so they assume we’re too stupid to either. It feels very bandwagon. I’m probably making no sense; the concerns I have are very gut-level and I’m not very good at expressing. Thanks for writing this. I’ve had a really bad feeling about this project since the beginning.

  2. Dani V permalink
    March 15, 2012 5:57 pm

    Great article.
    My only comment would be that the article tells us that social media activism is “using the master’s tools” and then encourages us to use social media in every available format to spread the word at the end of the article. How should we interpret that?

  3. March 15, 2012 6:05 pm

    Dani, I found that somewhat contradictory as well, but after reading the piece over several times I think the author was addressing the reality of how social media for many people has become the primary tool for social change to the exclusion of organizing and movement building. When the KONY 2012 people are telling the world that they can make a difference just by updating their facebook status, we miss the point about what is necessary for substantive social change. Just my take.

  4. March 19, 2012 1:56 am

    The “white man savior” syndrome is evident in KONY2012. Interesting article, there are so many sides to this Kony issue it is infinitely more complicated than some 30 minute video. I recommend people check out some impartial facts at the Kony Facts website, it helped me to better understand this issue.

  5. Zaphod permalink
    March 19, 2012 8:49 pm

    A prime example of kicking off the favourite tactic of our owners, Problem – reaction – solution.

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