GeoCurrents technical expert Kevin Morton just brought to my attention a viral video, Kony 2012, produced by the organization Invisible Children. The video seeks to use social media to help bring the brutal leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), Joseph Kony, to justice before the year is over. This powerful half-hour video has already been viewed more than seven million times on YouTube. Parts of it are difficult to watch, as it includes photos of people who have been horribly disfigured by LRA thugs.
Kony 2012, it must be said, has been subjected to some harsh criticism. Critics claim that the video is not fully accurate and that it engages in sensationalism; Invisible Children has also been taken to task for misrepresenting the situation and for seeking resources for itself. I cannot comment on the accuracy of these charges, but it does seem to me that the effort to bring the LRA into the global spotlight is worthwhile.
The debates about this video bring to my mind one of the topics-of-the-day in the U.S. media: the controversy surrounding the sexist insults recently deployed by right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh. These comments have been thoroughly aired, and Limbaugh has himself apologized for his offense. Yet in October 2011, equally outrageous comments from Limbaugh elicited little concern and no apology. At that time, Limbaugh offered his support for the LRA, a group infamous for its campaigns of mass rape and slaughter. These comments are worth quoting at some length:
Lord’s Resistance Army are Christians. They are fighting the Muslims in Sudan. And Obama has sent troops, United States troops to remove them from the battlefield, which means kill them. That’s what the lingo means, “to help regional forces remove from the battlefield,” meaning capture or kill. So that’s a new war, a hundred troops to wipe out Christians in Sudan, Uganda, and — (interruption) no, I’m not kidding.
Limbaugh was unaware of the atrocities committed by the LRA when he made these ignorant statements, and thus should perhaps be cut some slack. A geographically attuned media, however, would have brought them to national if not international attention. Actually, attempts were made to do so, yet somehow the issue never caught on. As Limbaugh himself emphasized, few Americans have ever heard of the LRA, and most do not seem to care what is happening in the remote reaches of central Africa. Perhaps the new video, Kony 2012, will make a difference in this regard.