I’m a pretty savvy guy, but I’m having a really tough time separating fact from fiction when it comes to Joseph Kony and Invisible Children and I wish the media would do more of this. Here’s what I think is clear and what you should know:
- Joseph Kony is a monster. This much is clearly true. Over the past 30 years, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has kidnapped 30,000 children and slaughtered many more.
- That does not mean he has an army of 30,000, it’s a total over the course of decades.
- Right now, experts think there are only a few hundred, not thousands, of members of the LRA. They’re still causing problems, but not on the scale Invisible Children would have you think.
- Joseph Kony probably isn’t even in Uganda. In fact, most people think he’s not, and hasn’t been for 6 years.
- He is not expanding into other countries, he’s in hiding after being indicted for crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court.
- The US has boots on the ground in central Africa specifically for the purpose of tracking down the LRA.
- Check here and here for more.
Here’s what I think we know about Invisible Children:
- Charity Navigator gives them 3 stars (of four), which is a respectable score.
- Despite what you read, the founders make modest salaries, all under $100k.
- They don’t seem to do much to actually help people other than raising awareness.
- With that in mind, this post saying they only give 31% of their revenue in direct need seems spurious.
- If you count their film-making, research, and travel, which seems fair as raising awareness is their goal, 80% of their revenue goes to programs, not administrative costs.
- They subscribe to a few philosophies of activism that many people, including myself, are wary of, including buying stickers, t-shirts, and “clicktivism.”
What am I missing? Lots, I bet. What questions are still open? There are a ton. But hopefully this clears up some of the facts surrounding #StopKony.