kony 2012: critiquing a campaign is not the same as criticising the campaigners

The Kony 2012 campaign by Invisible children has no doubt created some heated debates.

There has been thousands who have shown their support for the Kony 2012 campaign and probably thousands who have critiqued it (though no doubt more have supported than critiqued).

However, a common thought I have found in FB threads, blog comments and Twitter posts is that those who critique the campaign are criticising Invisible Children as an organisation.

While there are most certainly some articles and blogs which do criticise Invisible Children, some with scathing and slanderous attacks (which I will not link here as I do not think they are helpful in this issue), many who have spoken about Kony 2012 have not sought to bag Invisible Children, just point out the short falls in this particular campaign.

There is no doubt that Invisible Children is an organisation who has done and is currently doing some terriffic things in the way of film making, ground work in Africa and in particular advocacy and awareness raising of horrific issues of poverty, war, abductions and murders, particularly those relating to the LRA and Joseph Kony. For this they are to be thoroughly applauded! The Invisible Children’s film The Resuce (2009) is one such effort which I applaud.

Indeed, for this current campaign to ‘Stop Kony’, their ability to reach and raise awareness through social media is astounding and once again to be applauded. Aside from perhaps the recent revolution in Egypt and perhaps Syria, I for one have not seen a social media campaign like Kony 2012… it is an incredible feat!

And this is one of the Invisible Children’s objectives in the Kony 2012 campaign:

We are taking action to ensure these two things:

(1) That Joseph Kony is known as the World’s Worst War Criminal

Invisible Children is a long way to achieving this goal, at least in the US and other western nations like Australia.

However, just because the campaigners (Invisbible Children) are good campaigners, just because they have done well in the past and even in this campaign, and just because one of their objectives is a good objective it doesn’t make the whole campaign unworthy of any sort of critique. Critiquing the canpaign and it’s potential short falls is not the same as criticising Invisible Children, nor does it negate all the good the things they have done in the past or the good things they are currently doing.

It also doesn’t mean that those critiquing the campaign do not support Invisible Children as an organisation (although I imagine some do not support them judging by their critiques).

What critiquing the campaign does mean is that the issues surrounding the campaign and the potential short falls are also brought to light (see my previous post and a list of blog critiques).

One FB commenter rightly states regarding a comment about allowing people to “make up their own mind”:

Or… don’t make up your mind. Read, learn as much as you can. Do what you think you should. But understand, and leave room for knowing that you probably don’t have the full story…

This is true. All who hold opinions about anything (myself included) need to remain open and teachable, allowing others (particularly those who know a lot more about the issue at hand – a lot more than I do!) to educate us about the issues and remain open to engage and respond to their feedback.

However, I fear that many have “made up their mind” and many have shown support of this campaign by sharing videos, tweets etc without having engaged at all with the broader issues and the possible shortfalls. This is where critiques of the campaign are useful and necessary. What people do with the information that they gather, and whether they decide whether to support the campaign or not is up to them. Some may choose to support a campaign such as Kony 2012 in its entirity, some will only support aspects of it and some not at all. What counts is being informed from both sides and making an informed decision.

All campaigns will have their shortfalls. These shortfalls, while they may determine how you interact with that particular campaign does not minimise (necessarily) the work that the organisation has done in other campaigns or the work they continue to do, even in aspects of the particular campaign. We as people who choose to engage with these issues reserve the right to support whoever we choose for whatever reasons we have. What we owe ourselves is being informed about the issues at hand.

– Jono

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About Jono Ingram

I am a Baptist Pastor in North West Victoria, Australia. I enjoy writing about issues relating to theology, biblical interpretation, social justice and ethics and relating this to life. I also love my veggie garden...

Posted on March 9, 2012, in Aid, News, War & Peace and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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