March 7, 2012 Comments Off on #StopKony2012
**Disclaimer: I remain undecided, overall, about the organization Invisible Children. This article is merely a compilation of news articles I have found today in an attempt to educate my peers that feel the need to merely just change their entire social media presence today because that’s what everyone else is doing.**
On March 7th, 2012 the “Stop Kony” campaign has been launched by Invisible Children- in an attempt to make him “famous” through awareness over social media in hopes of being brought to justice.
Grant Oyston, a sociology and political science student at Acadia University in Nova Scotia has written a popular post on tumblr that has spurred a lot of the criticism sources of Invisible Children’s cloudy financial background. “Last year, the organization Invisible Children spent $8,676,614. Only 32% went to direct services, with much of the rest going to staff salaries, travel and transport, and film production,” stated Oyston from his tumblr.
Charity Navigator is an extremely creditable source for determining the true effectiveness of some of your favorite charities around the world. “Our goal is to help people give to charity with confidence. At the same time, we aim to help charities by shining lights on truly effective organizations. In doing so, we believe we can help ensure that charitable giving keeps pace with the growing need for charitable programs.”
The full report on Charity Navigator’s financial run through of Invisible Children can be found here.
The United States Department of State has also voiced a concern for Uganda’s “Deteriorating human rights record. Recently the Ugandan government has failed to respect freedoms of expression, assembly, and the media, as well as its commitment to protect the human rights of all Ugandans.”
What role does the Uganda government play with Stopping Kony? This “detiorating” Uganda Government is Invisible Childrens answer to stopping Kony in 2012. “The group is in favour of direct military intervention, and their money supports the Ugandan government’s army and various other military forces..Both the Ugandan army and Sudan People’s Liberation Army are riddled with accusations of rape and looting, but Invisible Children defends them,arguing that the Ugandan army is “better equipped than that of any of the other affected countries”, although Kony is no longer active in Uganda and hasn’t been since 2006 by their own admission. These books each refer to the rape and sexual assault that are perennial issues with the UPDF, the military group Invisible Children is defending,” quote also from Oystons tumblr.
This photo is of the founders of Invisible Children posing with weapons and personnel of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army. (Source found here )
Lastly, Foreign Affairs published an article in November about Invisible Children. This article by Foreign Affairs clearly challenged the tactics used by Invisible Children in raising awareness. “Such organizations have manipulated facts for strategic purposes, exaggerating the scale of LRA abductions and murders and emphasizing the LRA’s use of innocent children as soldiers, and portraying Kony — a brutal man, to be sure — as uniquely awful, a Kurtz-like embodiment of evil,” the magazine wrote.
My conclusion. Do I believe that Joseph Kony is an evil man that has tormented over 22,000 children to date? Absolutely without a doubt. My biggest issue is with the tactics used by Invisible Children and the lack of time my peers have spent researching the very things that they have tweeted and posted about all day. Of course Invisible Children wants to raise awareness, it’s what keeps the dollars coming into their company. The pure fact that Invisible Children will not let an independent auditor touch their books brings up red flags to me immediately. Oh and it’s not because they can’t afford to hire an auditor, they spent over $1 million alone last year just on travel expenses. If there wasn’t anything to hide, they would easily let someone audit their books because this honestly is the biggest concern people have with their organization and they would probably generate even more funds with a clean record.
Invisible Children offers their financial books for the last five years on their website, but they’re doing it themselves and neatly putting everything into a graph- which can easily say anything they want it to say. Why? Because they performed the audit themselves. Invisible Children has launched numerous documentaries and have yet to ever “Stop Kony”. Why? Because creating awareness does not fix the issue, it only boosters their bank accounts time and time again. If Invisible Children thinks getting college kids and celebrities alike to post and tweet their documentary is going to ultimately stop Joseph Kony from waging war, I think there’s an even bigger issue than their financial records. The grounds that qualify that statement are simply because they’ve been doing this for years and have seen almost 40 MILLION of dollars generously donated to their campaign and have still not succeeded their goal- just stop for a second and think about what you could buy to with close to $40 million. (Source: Invisible Children)
To my peers: Before your compose your next generic tweet about “Stop Kony” or change your profile picture, please do some research on this topic before you jump on the bandwagon with the rest of our generation on social media. That’s all I am asking: Awareness about what you’re supporting. I’m not asking for the destruction of Invisible Children, but merely a plea for you to consider and be able to find out for yourself why you are supporting Invisible Children- not just because a director of a 30 minute film created a momentary sense of emotion in you.