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Mar 07 2012

#Kony: Uneasy Answers

If you haven’t seen it yet, watch the Kony 2012 video. Al has it up on his blog. Even if you’ve already heard bad things about it and Invisible Children, the group that made it, go watch it. You should know what goes on in other parts of the world, and this will tell you more than most of the media you’re likely to come into contact with.

Once you’ve done that, read the Visible Children tumblr. It will give you background the video won’t, both on the situation in Uganda and on Invisible Children’s goals as an organization. Note that the site has its own problems, including a mention of the White Man’s Burden problem that happens only in passing when it needs some space of its own on this topic. If you don’t feel comfortable with Invisible Children after reading, the tumblr also gives you some other options for taking action, namely providing more direct aid to the people affected by what’s going on.

Then head over to Justice in Conflict, a blog that problematizes the notion of unilateral justice in situations like these. They have provided the best primer on the complicated situation in Uganda that I’ve seen. They are also the only people I’ve noticed who understand something that Greta Christina is good at pointing out: The victims and the victimizers in any situation are often one and the same.

I can’t and won’t tell you what to do about Kony or about Uganda. I don’t have good answers. What I can tell you is that we may have the luxury to ignore conflicts in Africa, but that doesn’t mean we don’t play a part. If you’re reading this, you have a hand in what goes on there. It’s time to start education yourself about what that means.

3 comments

1 ping

  1. 1
    Desert Son, OM

    Thanks for the link to Justice in Conflict.

    problematizes the notion of unilateral justice

    Now why does a notion of unilateral justice seem familiar . . . hmmm . . . trying to think of where I’ve heard the idea that everyone that deserves punishment will get punishment, and everyone that was a victim will be recompensed and healed, and all such distinctions will be clearly writ and perfectly understood and ultimately redeemed . . .

    Nope. Can’t place it. Was probably nuthin’.

    Still learning,

    Robert

  2. 2
    Desert Son, OM

    Been reading through some of the comments at the Justice in Conflict site. Interesting. There seems to be a lot of “Yes, but any effort is better than no effort!” which seems to miss the point of Kersten’s analysis.

    It seems like Kersten’s article wasn’t to say “Kony 2012 is uninformed and therefore no one should do anything!” It seems like Kersten’s goal was to clarify why Kony 2012 is problematic and insufficiently informed of the complexity of the situation, including factors such as external global interests in the region, post-colonialism colonialism, and why such insufficient information may obstruct real effort for positive development in the region.

    And it seems like many in the comments are saying: “Any information about the situation is good!” to which Kersten’s reply seems to be: “It’s important that the information also be as accurate as possible, not just that it’s disseminated.”

    And in all of this reading I find myself asking, “In what ways are my own perspective and analysis distorting awareness of the situation because of long-term immersion in a system that privileges my point of view and the post-colonial colonialism of recent U.S. history?”

    Another obligation calls. I don’t feel I’m any closer to better understanding. I feel a bit like I’m failing by just being alive, and that any other condition wouldn’t be any more successful.

    Still learning,

    Robert

  3. 3
    jamessweet

    If you’re reading this, you have a hand in what goes on there.

    Heh, I learned about the tantalum thing back in 2000 or so… I was doing the software for a new board that our company had built, and everything on the new boards were going haywire. It took a long time for me to convince the hardware guys that it wasn’t my software, but finally I did, and the problem was uncovered: They had used aluminum capacitors instead of the more expensive tantalum capacitors. They fabbed some new boards using tantalum capacitors, and all the problems went away.

    And probably some African children died. Bah, some days it feels like being ethical at all is too hard and I want to just give up and start shoplifting and cheating on my taxes. heh…

  1. 4
    On Kony and Social Responsibility « Myriad Words

    [...] I came across this blog post at Almost Diamonds. Please take a look; it’s a good pointer to some of the issues and [...]

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