#StopKony won’t stop Kony

“Kony 2012,” a 30-minute video posted on Youtube on March 5, has gone viral, as supporters work to stop Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony.

Kony is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for recruiting more than 30,000 children into his army, known as the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), by killing their parents, kidnapping them, handing them a gun, getting them hooked on illegal drugs and then desensitizing them to the point that they will shoot on command. The LRA has no other purpose but to gain power and instill fear.

Jason Russell, creator of the “Kony 2012” video, wants to make Joseph Kony “famous.” Everyone who watches the video is driven to help the cause due to violent and heart breaking scenes and images. In the video, the measures already taken to stop the LRA have been downplayed, making it sound like every child in Uganda is still helpless and fearing for their lives.

In “Kony 2012,” the political and cultural affairs behind the LRA’s terrorist acts are not addressed; instead, the Invisible Children organization has made the issue seem less complex than it really is. In reality the number of LRA leaders has dwindled to just 200, compared to 10,000 in the 1990’s. The affected Ugandan people are rebuilding, and Joseph Kony has fled the country.

The Kony 2012 campaign has gotten immense publicity in the past three weeks. It’s amazing how one 30-minute Youtube video became a worldwide phenomenon seemingly overnight. Within two weeks, the “Kony 2012” video was viewed 83 million times. At press time, the video has over 100 million views.

Millions of people have shown their support for the campaign by making and liking statuses about Joseph Kony on Facebook, along with pictures and re-posts of the video that started the craze. Twitter users have also shown their support with #Kony2012 or #StopKony.

What most people don’t understand is that just because they’re making Joseph Kony’s name famous, typing Kony’s name into a Tweet won’t help officials find him any sooner. Even though the world knows what he did 20 years ago, it doesn’t make a difference when the man who committed the crimes is still and, may always be, at large.

I admit, the “Kony 2012” video is touching, but it gives everyone the impression that just liking a status on Facebook, or tweeting about stopping Joseph Kony on Twitter will make a difference. Watching a 30-minute video and making a post does not make anyone a social activist. In fact, less than a month after the video was released, many people have already abandoned the campaign and have carried on with their everyday lives.

Sitting behind a computer screen and expecting everything to be better is pointless. Posting about saving children should not be a sign of popularity; it should actually have a meaning to everyone. Capturing Joseph Kony is being treated as a trend, but while everyone is buying campaign T-shirts online, Joseph Kony is still at large.

If anything, the “Kony 2012” campaign should have been started 20 years ago, when the death toll and the number of kidnappings hadn’t gotten so high. Although the social media has spread word about the issue in such short time, capturing Joseph Kony at this point would not do any good to those who have been killed or who have had their lives ruined by the terrorist acts of the LRA. Kony is the first man to be thought of when the LRA is brought up, but there are still other soldiers very capable of becoming leaders as well. There is no peace to be brought to those who have moved on with their lives, even if Kony is captured. But perhaps it is better late than never.

by Atalie Black