Invisible Children sees support, criticism in KONY 2012 campaign

By Perri Killam

Invisible Children’s fight to bring justice to the Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony has received both support and criticism in recent days.

Invisible Children, a nonprofit organization, has been working to stop Kony since 2005. Their campaign, KONY 2012, is dedicated to promoting international knowledge of his actions in order to ensure he is caught and arrested.

Over 750,000 people now like the KONY 2012 page on Facebook and millions have watched an Invisible Children video about Kony on YouTube, but some don’t understand the motivation behind the campaign. Sophomore physical education major Zachary Strong believes that the group’s video and campaign is not enough to solve such a complex situation.

“At first I thought it was really good and well put-together,” Strong said, “It got my attention.”

Despite his initial reaction, Strong said that after looking into the situation, he thought “most of the video was propaganda and facts were stretched.”

Criticism abounds as to how helpful Invisible Children can be when the majority of their profits go toward awareness and filmmaking rather than direct relief. Katie Gough, an Invisible Children volunteer, said the group would rather foster independence than directly give money to the people of Uganda.

“If we fly to Uganda with 10,000 pairs of shoes, those shoes are going to run out,” Gough said. “We do not want to create a culture of dependency.”

The organization also received attention after Jason Russell, KONY 2012 campaign filmmaker, was detained and hospitalized on Thursday morning after a public meltdown.

According to San Diego police, Russell was detained after allegedly running naked through the streets of San Diego. He was later treated for exhaustion, dehydration and malnutrition. Ben Keesey, CEO of Invisible Children, released a statement saying “the past two weeks have taken a severe emotional toll on all of us, Jason especially, and that toll manifested itself in an unfortunate incident yesterday [Thursday].”

Strong said that upon originally seeing the KONY 2012 video, he felt compelled to participate, but he doesn’t see himself getting involved now because of the incident with Russell.

Despite the recent criticism, some still feel that, at the least, Invisible Children has informed people about what’s going on.

“I like that they’re creating awareness,” said Divine Massamba, junior hospitality management major. “It’s very real, it’s a story that needs to be heard.”