As the LGBT rights watchdog group Truth Wins Out reported yesterday, in an April 5th, 2012 press release, the Invisible Children nonprofit behind the viral video hit KONY 2012, and its video sequel “Beyond Famous”, appears to have an invisible agenda – which TWO’s Executive Director Wayne Besen calls “stealth evangelism”.
While most of mainstream media continues to uncritically report on the Invisible Children effort — despite a growing body of reporting tying the KONY 2012 authors to the politicized Christian right — at least a few mainstream media venues have picked up on my 7,000-word report that investigates extensive institutional and social ties between Invisible Children and the Washington, D.C. based neo-fundamentalist evangelical network called “The Fellowship” (or “The Family”). As I wrote in the executive summary to my report (cited by Forbes, USA Today, and The Guardian).
The efforts of Invisible Children, and KONY 2012, have been sharply criticized by a wide range of voices, especially Ugandans — who jeered and threw stones at the screen during a screening of KONY 2012 in North-Central Uganda — as well as journalists [1, 2, 3, 4] familiar with conflict in Northern Uganda and the DRC Congo, and academics [1, 2, 3] who study the Northern Uganda region.
According to Rosabell Kagumir, a young Ugandan journalist, the war in Northern Uganda was, in the beginning, “much more about resources and about marginalization of people of Northern Uganda.” Kagumir, who has studied at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, observed that “the situation [shown] in the [KONY 2012] video was [from] five, six years ago” and noted that the video shows Westerners and Americans as rescuers who swoop in and “save” helpless, benighted Africans. “if you are showing me as voiceless, as hopeless… you shouldn’t be telling my story if you don’t believe that I also have the power to change what is going on”, said Kagumir.
In a March 12, 2012 op-ed in Al Jazeera, Dr. Adam Branch, senior research fellow at the Makerere Institute of Social Research, Uganda, and assistant professor of political science at San Diego State University, USA — and author of Displacing Human Rights: War and Intervention in Northern Uganda — called out Invisible Children for,
“the warmongering, the narcissism, the commercialisation, the reductive and one-sided story they tell, their portrayal of Africans as helpless children in need of rescue by white Americans.
As a result of Invisible Children’s irresponsible advocacy, civilians in Uganda and central Africa may have to pay a steep price in their own lives so that a lot of young Americans can feel good about themselves, and a few can make good money. This, of course, is sickening”