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Kony 2012 – What’s It All About? [VIDEO]

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If you have been on any social media site such as Facebook or Twitter in the last couple days chances are you have heard about or at least seen the slogan “Kony 2012.” There is a thirty minute video that explains exactly what the movement is. Since it’s release on Tuesday the video has over 15 million views. At first glance, it seems like a very worthwhile and trustworthy cause, but is it really?

So what the heck is Kony, and why should you care?

Kony is Joseph Kony, a mad warlord who’s been leading a rebel army fighting the Ugandan government for decades. His Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) is a documented menace, guilty of brutal war crimes and kidnapping thousands of children and using them as soldiers, forced laborers and sex slaves.

The LRA bills itself as a Christian force, with Kony believing he is a voice for spirits that possess his body to communicate their demands to the LRA’s followers. International Christian charities and human rights groups, however, consider the LRA a cult and are part of the growing coalition urging action to stop Kony and the LRA once and for all.

But Kony was able to operate with near impunity for so long because, in the grand scheme of Africa’s wars, he was small potatoes. That’s where Invisible Children comes in.

Invisible Children is an international campaign to solve the Kony problem and help its victims. To that end, Invisible Children produced “Kony 2012,” the 30-minute film that has all the views, and the campaign it says “aims to make Joseph Kony famous, not to celebrate him, but to raise support for his arrest and set a precedent for international justice.”

Part of the campaign is a series of rallies planned in cities across the globe on April 20, and to basically posterize the world in “Kony 2012″ emblems to make everyone aware of who he is and what he is doing.  The plan is for supporters of the anti-Kony and LRA movement to gather and demonstrate public support for the campaign. (BTW, Invisible Children has its own critics, but no one doubts how awful Kony and the LRA are.)

Criticism

Kony is undeniably brutal, and the World Bank estimates that under his leadership the LRA has abducted and forced around 66,000 children to fight with them during the past two decades. In October, President Obama committed 100 U.S. troops to help the Ugandan army remove Kony.

But in November, a Foreign Affairs article pointedly challenged the tactics used by Invisible Children and other nonprofits working in the region to raise 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.

Charity Navigator, a U.S.-based charity evaluator, gives Invisible Children three out of four stars overall, four stars financially, and two stars for accountability and transparency. Some world reports claim that as low as 31% of Invisible Children’s donations go to the actual cause… So if you donated money to that website it may just being going to someone’s salary.

Lt. Col. Mamadou Gaye, a military spokesman for a United Nations stabilization mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, said recently that the LRA “has been weakened” by military efforts. The group is believed to now have only about 250 armed members. Gen. Carter Ham, the head of U.S. Africa Command, said recently that Kony was no longer in Uganda. So although it is still important to bring Kony to justice it seems as though he now has no power and is basically in hiding.

The idea to bring people together on a new format, social media, in the name of good is refreshing, but it seems as though there may actually be causes that could use the attention more. Before letting your emotions take you over after watching the touching video, and running out and quickly donating money, getting all the “Kony 2012″ merchandise, and gathering all your friends up to go out and posterize the town on April 20th, be sure to read into the cause and make sure its something you really want to support.

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