The Rev. Casey dunsworth

serves as Associate Campus Pastor to the Belfry, the Lutheran-Episcopal Campus Ministry to UC Davis

and as Program Director for LEVN, the Lutheran Episcopal Volunteer Network.


I've tried to keep my head out of this whole Invisible Children extravaganza, but too many people I thought would feel as I feel are throwing dollars, facebook statuses, tweets, etc., toward the organization's Stop Kony and #Kony2012 campaign. I couldn't keep quiet any longer.

I used to very much support the dudes at Invisible Children. I used to send them money until actually pretty recently (mostly because it was NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE to cancel my monthly donations. But that story is for another day). In high school, I think some friends of mine knew them or something--they're San Diegans or UCSD grads or something. And then at CLU, their van rolled up and they played their film and I cried 10 million tears and bought a t-shirt and probably told everyone all about it all day. They are nice people who want you to care about child soldiers.

And believe me, I care about child soldiers. No side of this argument would say otherwise.

But what worries me about Invisible Children is the "how" of the situation. They began with a few guys getting on a plane to central Africa with nothing but a camera. This is an amazing way to make a documentary. But once they made the documentary, I think they needed to hand off the heavy lifting to people who understand the intricacies and complexities of government, diplomacy, humanitarian aid, war, the UN, the ICC, etc., and all the other pieces of how our world works in a legal fashion.

I do not claim to be one of these people. And that is precisely my point.

I commend Invisible Children for their adventurous beginnings (nearly 10 years ago) and for their commitment to raising awareness. I condemn Invisible Children for their call for US military intervention and support of militias in CAR, DR Congo, and Uganda.

I am not arguing with the idea that Joseph Kony's army of children is horrible.
I am not arguing with the idea that something needs to be done about this.
I am not arguing with the idea that knowledge leads to power.

I am arguing with the idea that a bunch of vigilante documentarians have the ultimate solution to wars that have threatened a Central Africa for generations. Posing with automatic weapons and new African militia friends is not my vision of justice.

And how white and how imperialistic is it to assume that we will swoop in and save the day?

Furthermore, I worry that this focus on Joseph Kony, the man, is dangerous. "Making him famous" inadvertently makes him famous. Who it does not make famous are the individual boys and girls who have lost their lives and will lose their lives in the LRA. Because of media coverage, we know Charles Manson and Jeffrey Dahmner -- and not to mention those given clever monikers like Jack the Ripper and Son of Sam. These people are infamous -- the names of their victims forgotten.

I just worry that what this viral campaign has done has implanted the words "Joseph Kony" into the minds of  American Facebook users, and done little else but fund a single organization that may not be the solution.

The following authors describe in detail the questionable expenditures, non-profit rating, philosophies, etc., of Invisible Children in a way that I could only hope to paraphrase. Please read these, and the financial section of the Invisible Children website, and any information about CAR, DR Congo, and Uganda that you can glean from reliable sources.

The Problem with Invisible Children's Kony 2012 -- Michael Deibert

Solving War Crimes with Wristbands: The Arrogance of Kony 2012 -- Kate Cronin-Furman & Amanda Taub

Visible Children -- Grant Oyston

Kony is Not in Uganda (And Other Complicated Things) -- Joshua Keating

The "Proverbs 31" Woman

[The S]tree[t] of [Cro]cod[il]es