Answering "Kony" criticisms and taking the next step

By Andrew Revord
Associate Editor-In-Chief
The viral “Kony 2012 video has become as criticized as it has become popular. Here’s a rebuttal to some of the criticisms. Once you’ve read it, read about how you can take the next step.
1. Invisible Children spends about 63 percent of its funds on employees’ salaries, paying for its workers to travel around the country and promoting its message in the U.S, and only 37 percent on direct aid to Uganda. This is is true, but it is not surprising, or even bad. Invisible Children’s main focus is advocacy and awareness in the U.S, so it makes perfect sense that most of their money would be spent on operations here and for sending people around the country to speak about the issue.
Invisible Children isn’t trying to stop Kony by themselves, nor is the Kony video just a scam for them to line their pockets. They made the video to get celebrities, government leaders and everyday people to care about the issue so more can actually be done.
Even large charities like the American Cancer Society that are more focused on direct response still have massive operations to run. Your average high-schooler probably knows more about Volley for the Cure, the pink ribbon bumper stickers and “Save the ta-ta’s” bracelets than exactly what the ACS is doing to stop cancer.AM Whatever your feelings on Invisible Children are, that doesn’t make the issue they’re raising awareness about less real.
2. The video oversimplifies the issue.
Yes, and any freshman English teacher would say you must consider your audience and choose the most important information when getting an idea across. That doesn’t necessarily mean the idea is untrue.
People say the Kony video oversimplifies the issue because it doesn’t emphasize the fact that Kony and his forces aren’t just in Uganda, or that the Ugandan government itself isn’t perfect. And the U.S. has already sent 100 advisors to train the Ugandan military to fight Kony.
This is all true, but there’s even more. According to Invisible Children, which stated it does not endorse the Ugandan government iteslf, Uganda’s military is the most capable of any of the surrounding countries’ forces to take on Kony. That is why the U.S. mission in Uganda makes sense, but it needs public support to continue, which the Kony video sought to gain by making people care about the issue.
3. There are other problems in the world, even in the U.S.
Of course. Things like poverty, AIDS and global warming can be found everywhere. These are also important issues, but they are widespread and have no single solution. Joseph Kony and his army only affect a part of Africa, they don’t have allies or outside support. Kony is the source of the conflict, so having the Ugandan army close in on him makes it more likely he’ll be captured, ending the conflict.
In other words, there is a clear solution to a world problem we can end right now. That doesn’t mean it will be easy, but it’s a rare opportunity for us to make a difference in a way we normally can’t.
If you think your attention is better spent on bigger problems than Kony, fine, but just saying Kony isn’t a big enough deal does nothing for those “bigger” problems either.
4. People aren’t actually going to do/change anything.
Kony has been causing violence for over 20 years. Invisible Children has been around for almost a decade, and no one cared until now. Now, millions care thanks to social media and networking sites. This is a great first step.
Of course we have to do more than just let our emotions be touched, but people can easily take action. Aside from donating to Invisible Children, which allows it to continue raising awareness and aid to Uganda, you can contact our representative and senator and remind them how important the issue is and voicing support for the mission in Uganda. You can also ask the celebrities Invisible Children is targeting to speak out via Twitter. You can partake in invisible children’s “Cover the Night” event on Apr. 20.
Keeping Kony on the radar also raises the possibility of the government doing more or other charities stepping in where Invisible Children hasn’t yet.
Whatever you feel about Kony 2012, one thing is for sure: it is impressive that anyone was able to get millions of Facebook-using American teenagers to care about an issue on the other side of the world that has nothing to do with them and make them want to do something about it.
In conclusion: the next steps
Here’s the links to our representatives’ and senators’ websites, where you can contact them via e-mail, phone or good old “snail mail.”
Mt. Prospect: Rep. Peter Roskam
Arlington Heights: Rep. Bob Dold
Sen. Dick Durbin
Sen. Mark Kirk
Here’s the links to our representatives’ and senators’ websites, where you can contact them. Tell them how important it is to stop Kony and show your support for the U.S. mission in Uganda to help bring him to justice.
Mt. Prospect: Rep. Peter Roskam
Arlington Heights: Rep. Bob Dold
Sen. Dick Durbin
Sen. Mark Kirk
Watch “Kony 2012 Part II: Beyond Famous,” the sequel to the viral video

And of course, here’s links to Invisible Children’s website and their Facebook and Twitter pages, where you can learn more about the organization, Kony and how you can help.!/invisible