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Friday, March 24, 2017

Sophomore criticizes 'overnight activism' like 'Kony 2012'

There is a new phenomenon on Facebook and social media in general called “overnight activism.” This is when people take serious issues and make them into fads, and suddenly everyone becomes an activist, crusading for some unknown good.

The most recent example would be “Kony 2012,” where an infamous, shady activist group, Invisible Children, posted an exaggerated look at a demonized warlord who was eating children. He was eating them, right then, and he would only stop if we clicked the “Like” button. There was even a planned “Blanket the Night” event on campus, which apparently would raise awareness to squirrels and anyone else without Internet access. However, that event has since been canceled.

But popular opinion does not dictate laws. If that were the case, gay marriage would be legal and Taco Bell would be the wealthiest organization in America due to the legalization of marijuana.

Invisible Children is known for spreading inflated facts in order to “raise awareness.” Raising awareness is another term for spending money on advertisements to give charities money so they can get more advertisements. Somewhere in that cycle, the founder of the charity will acquire a lot of wealth. This is a lot like what happened with Darfur, a country we supported that we just as quickly forgot about. Now, we suddenly care about a warlord who has been in exile for six years. On top of that, his reign of terror started 20 years ago. He isn’t a threat anymore, and while Ugandans want to see him brought to justice, it’s not like he’s actively slaughtering people as the video implies.

“But, Dennison,” you say as you look up from Facebook for 30 seconds. “You’re so cynical. Where’s the harm in supporting such a good cause?”

I’m glad you asked, Facebook-addicted imaginary friend.

For one, remember that anything being advertised is paid for, meaning whoever paid for it needs money. It cost an estimated $1 million to make the video, and of the millions they made off the video, according to Jedidiah Jenkins, Invisible Children’s director of ideology, only 37 percent went to relief efforts — a significantly smaller amount than most charitable organizations.

Jason Russell, the mentally unstable evangelical Christian who runs Invisible Children, was arrested for masturbating in public — a breakdown caused by the stress from the scrutiny of his video. The organization has accepted donations from the anti-gay marriage group Proposition 8, a movement it supports. And, according to The New American website, the video fails to mention that Kony believes God is telling him to raise an army (called the Lord’s Resistance Army), the same entity convincing Russell to be an activist.

Secondly, the organization blatantly states it is not active in the country: “The truth about Invisible Children is that we are not an aid organization, and we don’t intend to be. I think people think we’re over there delivering shoes or food. But we are an advocacy and awareness organization,” said Jenkins.

So there you have it. I know it feels good to be active and help people, but the notion that helping a society with such a massive problem is an overnight fix is ignorant at best. It is important to be active in the U.S., a country currently in political and economic turmoil.

Support Occupy Wall Street, or don’t, but at least read about it before blindly agreeing. The United States doesn’t have a great track record with foreign intervention. We’re smarter than sheep, so just don’t follow; you are doing more harm than good by helping in the wrong way.

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