Current Event Friday 03.09 Kony 2012 Lesson

My lesson today investigating the viral video Kony 2012

Yesterday several students entered school excited to share their discovery of the video “Kony 2012.” This 30 minute video has gone viral on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, with over 50 million views in less than a week. After our Project Citizen Unit and our current start to the Genocide Unit I am proud to see students engaged in news, with the a desire to understand what was happening.  

--- This situation highlights the need to teach all citizens how to think independently. The movie is gripping and well done - yet remember one must cross check information and search to understand the situation beyond one movies tale. After cross checking the facts and the stories YOU, critically and independently should come to an understanding of what is happening. That maybe asking more questions, seeking more answers, or acting to help. But remember I hope to have all students leave the 7th grade social studies class with the skills to thrive as a citizen: being able to critically think, write, and act for oneself.

Today we are going to investigate the story of “Kony 2012” and you will draw your own conclusions and decisions on how to act. Be prepared to summarize the situation in your own words by being able to answer the basic questions.

The Site for Invisible Children: (the video is available here but must be watched outside of class)
Who is Joseph Kony?
  • Joseph Kony is the world’s worst war criminal. In 1987 he took over leadership of an existing rebel group and renamed it the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). The LRA has earned a reputation for its cruel and brutal tactics. When Joseph Kony found himself running out of fighters, he started abducting children to be soldiers in his army or ‘wives’ for his officers. The LRA is encouraged to rape, mutilate, and kill civilians -often with blunt weapons. The LRA is no longer active in Northern Uganda (where it originated) but it continues its campaign of violence in Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, and South Sudan. In its 26-year history the LRA has abducted more than 30,000 children and displaced at least 2.1 million people
What is the goal of Kony 2012?
  • Invisible Children has been working for nine years to end Africa’s longest running armed conflict. US Military advisers are currently deployed in Central Africa on a “time-limited” mission to stop Kony and disarm the LRA. If Kony isn’t captured this year the window will be gone. We are taking action to ensure these two things 1) That Joseph Kony is known as the world’s worst war criminal. 2) That the U.S. military advisers support the Ugandan Army until Kony has been captured and the LRA has been completely disarmed.

Why are we making Joseph Kony famous?
  • Invisible Children’s Kony 2012 campaign aims to make Joseph Kony famous, not to celebrate him but to raise support for his arrest and set a precedent for international justice. In this case, notoriety translates to public support. If people know about the crimes that Kony has been committing for 26 years, they will unite to stop him. Secondly, we want Kony to be famous so that when he is stopped, he will be a visible, concrete example of international justice. the other war criminals will know that their mass atrocities will not go unnoticed or unpunished.
  • Invisible Children’s email: info@invisiblechildren.com

Random additional information - can you tie this information into one of ideas you learned about on block day?

Article 1: Invisible Children's "Kony 2012" viral video stirs emotion and controversy
(CBS News) If you're on Facebook, chances are a link titled "Kony 2012" has appeared on your news feed this week.
The video, which was uploaded to YouTube on March 5, tells the story of filmmaker Jason Russell's personal mission to take down Joseph Kony, the Ugandan leader of the guerrilla group Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).
Produced by the non-profit group Invisible Children, it has all of the elements of a powerful viral video: heroes and villains, heart, purpose and a call to action (the filmmakers also make good use of Facebook Timeline as storytelling tool). In less than a week, the video has garnered over 26.6 million views, but it's also sparked controversy.
Invisible Children has been criticized for spending more of their resources on advocacy and filmmaking rather than on-the-ground humanitarian work. According to Charity Navigator, Invisible Children's accountability and transparency score is at 45 out of 100. In comparison, similar organizations Africare and AMREF USA have scores of 70 and 67, respectively. Invisible Children's explanation of the score is that they only have four independent voting members on their board of directors. Charities with fewer than five independent voting members get 15 points deducted from their accountability and transparency score.
In response to critics, Invisible Children released this statement on their website:
"Invisible Children's financial statements are online for everyone to see. Financial statements from the last 5 years, including our 990, are available at invisiblechildren.com/financials. The organization spent 80.46% on our programs that further our three fold mission, 16.24% on administration and management costs and 3.22% on direct fundraising in FY2011. Invisible Children is independently audited every year and in full compliance with our 501 c 3 status."
Critics also say that Invisible Children's video simplifies an issue that is more complex than just eliminating Kony from Uganda.
Along with organizations like the Resolve campaign and GuluWalk, Invisible Children has been accused of manipulating facts. Foreign Affairs magazine wrote in Nov. 2011:
"In their campaigns, 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. They rarely refer to the Ugandan atrocities or those of Sudan's People's Liberation Army, such as attacks against civilians or looting of civilian homes and businesses, or the complicated regional politics fueling the conflict."
Critics don't appear to doubt the altruism of Invisible Children's mission, they are more concerned with what happens after people watch the video.
"One consequence, whether it's [Invisible Children] or Save Darfur, is a lot of dangerously ill-prepared young people embarking on missions to save the children of this or that war zone," said Chris Blattman, professor of political science and economics at Yale University. "At best it's hubris and egocentric. More often, though, it leads to bad programs, misallocated resources, or ill-conceived military adventures."
Invisible Children recognized the critique that they oversimplified the issue and admitted that the film was meant to serve as an entry point to the topic.
"In our quest to garner wide public support of nuanced policy, Invisible Children has sought to explain the conflict in an easily understandable format, focusing on the core attributes of LRA leadership that infringe upon the most basic of human rights. In a 30-minute film, however, many nuances of the 26-year conflict are admittedly lost or overlooked," the group said in a statement.
Ultimately, Invisible Children want to shift the conversation so that critics and allies, alike, continue to raise awareness about Kony and the LRA.
"Let's focus on what matters, and what we DO agree on: Joseph Kony needs to be stopped. And when that happens, peace is the limit," the organizers stated.

Article 2: Source: The Telegraph: “Joseph Kony 2012: Obama administration congratulates success of campaign

The 30-minute video, Kony2012, was produced by three US videographers campaigning for greater efforts to capture Kony, the leader of the LRA. The video has been viewed on YouTube alone almost 50 million times in the last five days. Jay Carney, the White House Press Secretary, congratulated the "hundreds of thousands of Americans who have mobilised to this unique crisis of conscience." Mr Carney said: "I think this viral video that you mentioned is part of that response, raising awareness about the horrific activities of the LRA, and consistent with the bipartisan legislation passed by our congress in 2010 the United States continues to pursue a comprehensive multi-faceted strategy to help the governments and people of Central Africa in their efforts to end the threat posed by the LRA and reduce the human consequences of the LRA's atrocities."
Critics argue Kony and his diminishing troops, many of them kidnapped child soldiers, fled northern Uganda six years ago and are now spread across the jungles of neighbouring countries.
“What that video says is totally wrong, and it can cause us more problems than help us,” said Dr Beatrice Mpora, director of Kairos, a community health organisation in Gulu, a town that was once the centre of the rebels’ activities.
“There has not been a single soul from the LRA here since 2006. Now we have peace, people are back in their homes, they are planting their fields, they are starting their businesses. That is what people should help us with.”
The video aims to make Kony “famous” by encouraging supporters to plaster US cities with posters, in order to make the fight against the Lord’s Resistance Army an issue of “national interest” to Washington.
That, the video’s makers claim, will ensure funding for 100 US military advisors sent to train African armies to find Kony will continue.
“Suggesting that the answer is more military action is just wrong,” said Javie Ssozi, an influential Ugandan blogger.
“Have they thought of the consequences? Making Kony ‘famous’ could make him stronger. Arguing for more US troops could make him scared, and make him abduct more children, or go on the offensive.”
Rosebell Kagumire, a Ugandan journalist specialising in peace and conflict reporting, said: “This paints a picture of Uganda six or seven years ago, that is totally not how it is today. It’s highly irresponsible”.
There were criticisms that the film quoted only three Ugandans, two of them politicians, and that it spent more time showing the filmmaker's five-year-old son being told about Joseph Kony than explaining the root causes of the conflict.
Invisible Voices has faced criticism over its finances. Of more than £6 million it spent in 2001, less than £2.3 million was for activities helping people on the ground. The rest went on “awareness programmes and products”, management, media and others.
“It is totally misleading to suggest that the war is still in Uganda,” said Fred Opolot, spokesman for the Ugandan government.
“I suspect that if that’s the impression they are making, they are doing it only to garner increasing financial resources for their own agenda.”
Invisible Children said the video focused on Uganda because its "people and government...have a vested interest in seeing him stopped".
"The LRA was active in Uganda for nearly 20 years, displacing 1.7 million people and abducting at least 30,000 children," it said in statement.

Optional Reading:

Excerpt from this article:
“Implying that finally now, by getting the word out about Kony via celebrities, bracelets and social media, can the LRA be ended plays into this narrative of white rescuers coming to help poor Africans and totally ignores the efforts, good and bad, by Ugandans to fight the LRA for 25 years. I belong to a discussion group of hundreds of Ugandan journalists, and so far only one has been willing to stand up and say this campaign is a good thing (and mainly because it might help more people find Uganda on a map). Nearly everyone else finds Kony 2012 self-aggrandising, patronising and oversimplified.
As someone who, like the Invisible Children founders, loves and cares deeply about Uganda, perhaps most worrying to me is defining the image of Uganda in the minds of these millions of video viewers as a place of perpetual conflict and strife. Thursday, some of my Ugandan friends pointed out, was International Women's Day and attention to the many positive things to celebrate about the progress of Ugandan women were overwhelmed by attention to Kony 2012.
On a darker note, Uganda also has many serious problems: a president in power for 26 years, millions in stolen funds and missing medicine, oil wells soon to begin flowing (with the potential for further corruption) and one of the world's youngest populations facing high rates of inflation and rising unemployment. Like many who know more than just one household name connected to Uganda, I worry that these important and more complicated issues will be overwhelmed by the half-informed outcry over the LRA and Uganda will, for millions, still be connected to one of the most terrible times in its history. And, of course, to the nice Americans who came to help.
We should stop Kony, and Invisible Children as an organisation and Kony 2012 as a campaign are intended to further this goal. But not all well-meaning efforts are flawless and, rather than being depicted as cynical nay-saying, criticism should be embraced and addressed rather than rejected.
If there were a referendum on whether or not Joseph Kony should be hunted with all available resources until he is arrested or killed, it would certainly pass. But translating millions of video views to change on the ground in eastern and central Africa is much harder than the social media outpouring of concern (and congratulation about that concern) would lead you to believe.

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