Friday, March 9, 2012

Who do you believe?

Joseph Kony
We all make choices each day about who we believe in when we pick our sources for information. I have scientific magazines, some newspapers and a number of journalists that I believe in most of the time. Are they always right? No. However, they admit it and publish their apologies when they are wrong. I admire that and to me it makes them more believable.

My spider senses always rise red flags when I come across sentimental "propaganda" from online sources. Such things are published with an intent and they will twist the facts to fit their picture, not necessarily the truth. Their intents are often good, but they do it the wrong way, or the effect of what they do is ... strange. As an example I can name Zeitgeist that attempted to make people think about what they believe in and why, but only managed to gather a mass of mindless followers.

Today Kony 2012 is all over the news. I watched the video and immediately got that tingly feeling from my spider senses. It's sentimental, playing on our feelings. It provides a "group" mentality and encourages you to spend money. All this is not necessarily a bad thing, but it needs to be put into context.

  • Invisible Children ask for money, so how do they spend that money? According to Visible Children they spend 32% of the money on direct services. The rest of the money goes to other things. It's not a reason to not giving them money but it's worth to look up what they spend the money on and what it does.
  • Invisible Children support the Ugandan military and are connected to the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, both being accused for rapes, looting and violations against human rights. (Source)
  • The video does not mention that Joseph Kony and the LRA has not operated in Uganda since 2006 nor that his army now consists of 400 mostly adult soldiers. It doesn't mention that the number of 30000 child soldiers spans over 30 years. It doesn't make Kony less bad in any way, but such facts should be provided IMO.
  • There are images of fugitives from Gulu, a phenomena that stopped in 2004, and the war in northern Uganda ended in 2005. (source) Is it morally correct to use images that don't show the reality of today? I don't think so.
  • Ugandan journalist Rosebell Kagumire points out that: "Northern Uganda is not about war or catching Kony anymore, it is about rebuilding. Invisible Children neglects that. They campaign for the Ugandan children from 2005, not the current ones suffering in Congo." (Source)

People who "like" Invisible Children on FaceBook, should know that they "like" an extremist organisation that is willing to support groups who rape women and children as well as ignore human rights. They want to protect the "Invisible Children" by causing potential harm and death to other people.

Who do I believe today? The critics of course.
Yes it's horrible that children suffer, in any nation and at any time, but I don't think that supporting the "lesser" evil will ever turn out to be a good thing. (Just look at what happened when Saddam Hussain got support.) Giving military support to people who rape women and children to get to a man that kidnap and abuse children, a man that's not in the same nation as the first group, is illogical to me. No, it's more than illogical, it's insane. There has to be another way to help the children that are in need of help, and at the same time help those women and children.

A Norwegian journalist very kindly called the video makers "uneducated". I don't see it that way. I think they knew exactly what they were doing, that they twisted information and left things out to make it fit their agenda. This is extremism, their agenda doesn't have to be sane of logical, what matters is how much they believe in it.

And there it is again, belief. What do you believe? Does the means justify the end?

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