Viral Propganda- The KONY 2012 Campaign
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Americans wince at the word ‘propaganda.’ In its original use, the term simply meant the spreading of ideas in support of an institution or cause. So what are we so afraid of? Invisible Children’s KONY 2012 is propaganda. It establishes within the first second of the campaign’s video that “Nothing is more powerful than an idea.”
Thousands of Facebook and Twitter users calling for the arrest of Joseph Kony and the decimation of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) overnight. Didn’t every good-hearted American who viewed the documentary support American troops on Ugandan soil, and if they were moved enough, buy bracelets and kits to help fund the Ugandan military and government? That’s successful propaganda. People want exactly what the video outlines as its goals.
Why all the publicity now? Why six years after the LRA was deactivated in Uganda, eight years since the founding of Invisible Children and 20 years after the LRA emerged as an organization are people suddenly taking an interest in this cause? Is it because KONY 2012 made them aware? Invisible Children has preached this cause for a long time and eight years of stale propaganda doesn’t usually sweep the nation in less than a week, unless the right people want it to.
Invisible Children is an honest and inspiring organization, but its sudden resurgence of publicity is no coincidence. The resource race rages on and the conflict minerals mined in central African countries contribute in the production of almost every type of computer.
U.S. intervention in Ugandan affairs and support of their government, driven by the trade of conflict minerals when it began the Second Congo War in 1998 and invaded its neighbor, can only further business relations with the country.
Every single KONY 2012 dollar is used to either strengthen that business relationship through funding the Ugandan government or to generate approval for U.S. presence in the country. For people who apparently don’t understand anything about the problems in Africa or haven’t watched the movie “Blood Diamond,” yes, wars are fought over our and other first world nations’ business.
Workers are oppressed and attacked by their own governments for control of resources that are worthless to almost the entire population of the continent. Warlord-headed groups like the LRA, founded in 1988 to contest the National Resistance army and led by current and then president Yoweri Musseveni, spring up to fight the horrible conditions and commit atrocious crimes in the process.
Apart from the motives behind the propaganda, and the serious problems they might cause for Uganda if the U.S. establishes its presence there, the video is painfully oversimplified. It calls for involvement in a foreign nation with no realistic context for the state of the country or even an explanation of why the government is plagued by rebels. It also equates Americans to the 6-year-old child who hears the story of the LRA in the video; the video producers assume the audience is unworthy and incapable of grasping any concept outside of “He’s the bad guy, let’s get him.”
Obviously, something needs to be done about Kony, but a bunch of facebook status updates are not going to cut it. If you want to fight injustice and right wrongs, you should do a little independent research and find the method that best suits you. Some will join groups like the Peace Corps and travel the world helping others, and some will stay at home to write letters, sign petitions and try to draw attention to the problem. Most importantly, know more about the issues than you learned in the Kony 2012 video. Don’t base your entire outlook on a situation upon one group’s or one person’s point of view.