The campaign has received criticism because it allegedly is a form of slacktivism where people think they can make a difference by sharing some video on Facebook. Ironically, those who critizice the supposedly mindless reposting of the film on social networks have mostly done so by mindlessly reposting a link to a critical blog run by a Canadian sociology student.
Here are some criticisms against Kony 2012 and the group behind the movie, Invisible Children, and my replies:
- Joseph Kony left Uganda in 2006. If you believe that the LRA conflict no longer has anything to do with Uganda, I congratulate you on having better knowledge of the security situation in east and central Africa than the United States Department of Defense and president Obama's military and security advisors, who chose to deploy US troops to – yes – Uganda in order to help fight the LRA. The film makes no secret of the fact that Kony is not in Uganda – it states that the country is "relatively safe" and it is clear from a map that the LRA has shifted its operations elsewhere, although of course Uganda is still involved in the conflict and cooperates with its neigbours in capturing Kony.
- Uganda is an anti-gay dictatorship. True, but the LRA is much worse.
- The Ugandan army has been accused of rape and looting. If the Ugandan army has problems with discipline, the more reason for them to be trained by American advisors.
- Invisible Children spends most of its money on film-making and advocacy. The main aim of the movie is to put pressure on US policymakers, not to raise money. I doubt many of those who reposted the move donated anything. On its website, the organization states that is spends 20 percent of revenues on administration and fundraising.
- The founders of Invisible Children pose with guns on a photo. "Stop Kony" is not a non-violence campaign. They are not advocating hugging Joseph Kony to death. In order to stop the LRA you need guns. More about the photo here.
- The campaign implies that white people should save Africa and smells of colonialism. After Rwanda 1994 and Srebrenica 1995, the world said "never again". Last year, reluctant western intervention helped bring peace and democracy to Libya and the Ivory Coast. Even the United Nations now agrees that the international community has a responsibility to protect people against grave human rights abuses. Although war is declining and democracy is progressing, everybody should help accelerate this process. Inaction is not an option.