Kony: When Good Intentions Go Bad

March 17th, 2012, byJeremy Freed

Even since the 30-minute Kony 2012 video popped up on my Facebook feed, followed immediately by a firestorm of controversy surrounding it, I’ve been following this story with great interest. The rise and fall of Jason Russell, the video’s narrator and spokesman for the organization that produced it, Invisible Children, was just as quick and even more bizarre.

On Friday, TMZ posted a video of Russell having what appeared to be a naked meltdown on a San Diego street corner. Subsequently, it was reported that Russell had been taken into psychiatric care and was being treated for “exhaustion, dehydration, and malnutrition as a result of a strenuous PR campaign.”

Although I, like many, found the video to be manipulative, oversimplified and misrepresenting of facts, I’m sympathetic towards Russell, someone who appears to have had good intentions and has become the lightning rod for an extremely complex and heated debate. Historically, the West’s role in helping lift African nations out of poverty, war and corruption is just as fraught with good intentions yielding disastrous results. Russell is merely the latest in a long line of well-intentioned Westerners with fundamental misunderstandings about Africa, its people and its frequently bewildering politics.

If you want to get the facts on Uganda and Joseph Kony, here are some good resources to check out:

BBC

The Economist

Foreign Policy

Amnesty International

Last modified: March 19, 2012 at 1:42 pm