Those hunting for Kony: Go find him yourselves

Jason Russell (left) and Ben Keesey (right), founder and CEO of Invisible Children Inc. respectively, started the Kony 2012 campaign. Courtesy of MCT 


As part of the annual recycling of flash-fad righteous causes, the reoccurrence of obnoxious sidewalk chalk has signified that a renewed do-gooder campaign is in the works.

Filmmaker Jason Russell is currently trying to rehabilitate his career by re-inflating the balloon of hype over third-world thug Joseph Kony with a brand new video. While altruistic causes might excite teenage minds to imagined heights of glory, one would hope that few adults would fall for this cheap trick of humanitarian propaganda.

Unfortunately, optimistic hopes of sanity are rarely fulfilled, especially in the halls of Capitol Hill.

Joseph Kony and his brigade of thuggish rebels are a small insurgent group that has adopted the moniker of the Lord’s Resistance Army, though they do little resisting and even less of the Lord’s work. They are mostly an armed band of wandering extortionists who often forcibly recruit children and commit gruesome civilian atrocities.

The group has been fighting in Uganda, the Congo, South Sudan and the Central African Republic for the better part of three decades, but their exact whereabouts are in flux and always ambiguous.

Flash forward to 2012 when Jason Russell created a viral social media video, extolling American children and teenagers to pester their parents to take action against this sporadic third-world insurgency.

Soon, self-righteous and inchoate adolescents everywhere demanded that the grown-ups do something (what, exactly, was rather unknown), and plastered Kony 2012 posters and other graffiti over every available surface.

The previous fall, President Obama had sent over a token force of 100 troops to Uganda, ostensibly to train the military there to hunt down Kony. Russell’s charity, Invisible Children, supported this executive action and the crux of the Kony 2012 campaign was to put pressure on legislatures to increase support to central African nations to better catch the flagitious warlord.

Perhaps Russell, who now claims post-traumatic stress disorder after this year’s media frenzy, should assemble a citizen’s battalion featuring both his impressionable followers and his celebrity supporters, such as Oprah Winfrey, Justin Bieber, Alicia Keys and Bono. They could travel to Uganda, buy weapons, and begin their righteous crusade against Kony’s injustice, while only putting their own lives in danger and doing so with their own checkbooks.

Of course this will never happen, since it is much easier to risk the lives of others than their own, even as they pontificate from their podiums of moral superiority. Those who are so willing to send other young Americans into battle rarely volunteer themselves, while those who have seen the grotesque realities of war are usually more reluctant to condemn others to this fate.

There are plenty of bad guys in the world. Many dictatorial African nations come to mind, and perhaps even the Ugandan military. Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe is certainly no friend to his people, few would wish to live under Iran’s ayatollahs, and there are many Mexican drug lords who undoubtedly match Kony in brutality.

By Russell’s logic, shouldn’t this country send our troops to battle these other agents of evil?

This contradiction exposes the “world police” fallacy that has guided U.S. policy over the last half-century. Fundamentally, the bungled military adventure in Iraq only differs from the altruistic task of Kony-hunting in its magnitude. Instead of more interventionism, let the African people protect themselves from dictators and warlords.

If the situation were reversed, we would not be looking for help from beyond our own borders. Let’s stop sending our nation’s young troops overseas and into hazard for dubious causes.

About Daniel Barbeau

Daniel is a freelance writer for the Daily Titan. If you’re interested in freelancing for the Daily Titan, contact