There’s a fascinating time suck of a debate raging today about aid, donors and foreign intervention across boundaries of power. You’ve probably seen it or one of its backlash iterations: a half-hour video posted on your freshman year roommate’s Facebook page, or the Twitter hashtags #Kony2012, #StopKony2012, #StopStopKony2012 — or, as I expect soon, #StopStopStopArguingAboutKony2013.
“Kony” is the Central African warlord Joseph Kony, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court (here’s the warrant) for war crimes, rapes, murder and being generally horrible. The excitement began when a San Diego-based NGO called “Invisible Children” posted a video online calling for justice for Kony and donations for them, and the mini-doc went apeshit viral.
I know nothing about Kony, that war, or Ugandan or Congolese politics. But I’m very interested in questions about how we as citizens of a powerful country like the United States talk about and involve ourselves in the non-white, non-powerful, formerly colonized world. (And, full disclosure, instantly suspicious of anyone who claims to speak for “invisible,” “voiceless” or otherwise less-than-existant people while raising money in their name.) There’s a lot to learn from that debate about other places too, including, say, the one I should be writing a book about instead of posting on Tumblr.
In any case, here are good places to dive in to the debate:
Invisible Children responds to the criticism
Foreign Policy on why this is all more complicated than it seems.
Teju Cole on “the banality of sentimentality.”
Ok now, seriously, back to writing the book. Oh crap, there’s a rumor in Haiti …