Archive for Joseph Kony

Rush Limbaugh Defended Joseph Kony, Leader Of Rebel Militia Accused Of Atrocities

Posted in Loon Politics, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 12, 2012 by loonwatch

Rush Limbaugh Defended Joseph Kony, Leader Of Rebel Militia Accused Of Atrocities

Joseph Kony, the African strongman who is suddenly a major villain thanks to a viral video about his atrocities, has a friend in Rush Limbaugh.

In 2011, President Obama sent American troops to fight Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, a guerilla group in Uganda. The LRA has been condemned for human rights violations and using child soldiers to carry out atrocities. A video from the charity group, the Invisible Children, about Kony and the violence in central Africa, has garnered nearly 40 million views since it went up on Youtube three days ago.

But last October, Limbaugh blasted the president for committing troops to “wipe out Christians.”

WATCH:
http://cloudfront.mediamatters.org/static/flash/pl55.swf

Lord’s Resistance Army are Christians.  It means God.  I was only kidding.  Lord’s Resistance Army are Christians.  They are fighting the Muslims in Sudan.  And Obama has sent troops, United States troops to remove them from the battlefield, which means kill them.  That’s what the lingo means, “to help regional forces remove from the battlefield,” meaning capture or kill.

So that’s a new war, a hundred troops to wipe out Christians in Sudan, Uganda, and — (interruption) no, I’m not kidding.  Jacob Tapper just reported it.  Now, are we gonna help the Egyptians wipe out the Christians?  Wouldn’t you say that we are?  I mean the Coptic Christians are being wiped out, but it wasn’t just Obama that supported that.  The conservative intelligentsia thought it was an outbreak of democracy.  Now they’ve done a 180 on that, but they forgot that they supported it in the first place.  Now they’re criticizing it.

Lord’s Resistance Army objectives.  I have them here.  “To remove dictatorship and stop the oppression of our people.” Now, again Lord’s Resistance Army is who Obama sent troops to help nations wipe out.  The objectives of the Lord’s Resistance Army, what they’re trying to accomplish with their military action in these countries is the following:  “To remove dictatorship and stop the oppression of our people; to fight for the immediate restoration of the competitive multiparty democracy in Uganda; to see an end to gross violation of human rights and dignity of Ugandans; to ensure the restoration of peace and security in Uganda, to ensure unity, sovereignty, and economic prosperity beneficial to all Ugandans, and to bring to an end the repressive policy of deliberate marginalization of groups of people who may not agree with the LRA ideology.”  Those are the objectives of the group that we are fighting, or who are being fought and we are joining in the effort to remove them from the battlefield.

What’s Never Trending on Twitter: U.S. Has Killed Way More People than the LRA’s Joseph Kony

Posted in Feature, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , on March 12, 2012 by loonwatch

(Updated below)

Unless you live under a rock, you’ve seen Invisible Children’s Kony 2012 YouTube video which has now gone viral:

We posted it ourselves on LoonWatch.  We wondered what if Joseph Kony, a self-avowed Christian leading a group called the Lord’s Resistance Army, had been a Muslim with the name Yusuf Qani?  What if he was leading a group called Allah’s Resistance Army?

The article generated a healthy discussion, and we benefited from the input of Ruth DeSouza, who posted a link to a very thought-provoking article she wrote:

The  documentary repeats the colonial imperative for Africa to be saved by white people. This video smacks of yet another colonial “civilising” project,  where the old binaries of colonialism are revived. These frame Africa as backward, while the west is modern; “we” are positioned as free while “they” are oppressed and so on. In this binary of good and bad, Africans are represented on the not so good side of the binary. Therefore, the solution must be a good one, a white one, and in this hierarchy Africans lose out. Local efforts and voices go unacknowledged in favour of the white saviour complex, which as Teju Cole suggests “supports brutal policies in the morning, founds charities in the afternoon, and receives awards in the evening”…

I abhor the white saviour narrative, where vulnerable children or women of colour must be rescued from men of colour by “culturally superior” white men or women.

Her complaint with the documentary is most certainly valid.  The documentary could have benefited from featuring some local African protagonists, of which there exist no shortage of.  In fact, I would hazard a guess that the people most involved in the effort to protect the local population would be from within the community itself.

Dispatches’ documentary on Africa’s child witches managed to give a more balanced picture of the situation by including African heroes alongside Gary Foxcroft, such as Sam Itauma.  By so doing, they decreased the chances of sending the wrong message.  One must be cautious in this regard, especially in the backdrop of a long history of colonial humanitarianism.  The West has–and continues to–use humanitarian “concerns” to imply their superiority over darker peoples, as well as to justify military occupation.

Having said that, I do not think one can be too critical of Invisible Children’s documentary. They were in a bit of a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t situation.  If they depicted the suffering of Africans, they could be accused of portraying Africa as backward.  If they ignore African plight, then they could be accused of racism (do you only care about white people dying?).

Even so, it is very true that Westerners, especially Americans, have a much easier time seeing a black African like Joseph Kony as the ultimate villian.  Certainly, Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) have killed thousands of individuals, abducted tens of thousands, and displaced countless more innocent people.  No reasonable person could deny the wickedness of Kony or his cohorts.

Yet, all of this pales in front of the crimes committed by the leaders of the United States, most of whom are “good, white Judeo-Christian folk.”  I know even the thought of this seems offensive to all Serious, Decent People, who would be quick to cast this off as some sort of conspiracy theorist talk.

But, the evidence speaks for itself.  The Christian Science Monitor estimates that the LRA has “killed an estimated 2,500 people” over an 18-month period.  I couldn’t find a cumulative tally for the last two decades, but it seems safe to say that we’re talking about thousands or at most tens of thousands.  Meanwhile, “a reasonable upper bound for Muslim fatalities [caused by the United States]…is well over one million.”  That’s just Muslim victims.

Who then is the greater villain?  Pure numbers would indicate the United States.  Admittedly, there are other considerations, but the huge disparity in numbers of corpses speaks volumes.

It’s unlikely that a YouTube video calling to stop the United States from its history of virtually non-stop war and killing would ever go viral like the Kona 2012 documentary did.  Granted, it’s harder to criticize one’s own nation, but it seems more reasonable to channel one’s energy towards one’s elected government.   As our generation’s most important intellectual Noam Chomsky said in an interview:

My own concern is primarily the terror and violence carried out by my own state, for two reasons. For one thing, because it happens to be the larger component of international violence. But also for a much more important reason than that; namely, I can do something about it. So even if the U.S. was responsible for 2 percent of the violence in the world instead of the majority of it, it would be that 2 percent I would be primarily responsible for. And that is a simple ethical judgment. That is, the ethical value of one’s actions depends on their anticipated and predictable consequences.

Furthermore, pointing to the atrocities committed by people of other nations while remaining silent about one’s own country’s crimes reeks of hypocrisy of the worst order.  Chomsky continued:

It is very easy to denounce the atrocities of someone else. That has about as much ethical value as denouncing atrocities that took place in the 18th century.

The point is that the useful and significant political actions are those that have consequences for human beings. And those are overwhelmingly the actions which you have some way of influencing and controlling, which mean for me, American actions.

For most citizens, however, the situation is exactly reversed.  Indeed, American interest in human rights abuses falls into one of three categories:

1. They are most vocal about the inequities of their enemies, especially when there is a national interest involved and the villain is a Muslim (i.e. Iran).

2. They are generally silent about (or merely pay lip service to) the human rights abuses committed against people belonging to nations where no national benefit can be expected (i.e. many parts of Africa).

3. They are wholly ignorant about, adamantly deny, or justify the crimes committed by their own government (i.e. the United States) or stalwart allies (i.e. Israel).

George Orwell famously said:

All nationalists have the power of not seeing resemblances between similar sets of facts. A British Tory will defend self-determination in Europe and oppose it in India with no feeling of inconsistency.  Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of outrage — torture, the use of hostages, forced labour, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians — which does not change its moral colour when it is committed by ‘our’ side. . . . The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.

We always wonder how it was that the Germans claimed not to know what Adolf Hitler and the Nazis were doing.  Yet, how similar is our general state of apathy today toward what our own government commits on a daily basis.  The reality is that the American can never come to grips with the wickedness of the crimes his nation commits.

American indifference and willful ignorance of the hundreds of thousands of lives our government brings to an end is also due to the fact that we don’t witness the effects of what we’re doing.  Whereas Europe and Russia experienced the horrors of war firsthand, the United States has remained relatively safe and secure on the North American continent, not having seen war on its shores for a very long time.  War to Americans means little more than increased gas prices–not bombs dropping from the skies while filling gas.

The victims of American foreign policy reside some hundreds and thousands of miles away in countries and continents we’ve never seen.  The dead remain nameless and faceless.  Even our soldiers oftentimes don’t see who they kill.  Imagine if a pilot of a bomber plane had to actually attend the funerals of the peoples’ lives he extinguishes with the press of a button?  This situation has become even worse with the advent of remote-controlled drones.  Americans are becoming increasingly protected and distant from the violence that they spread throughout various parts of the globe.  Our way of killing is just cleaner (and more efficient).

But, it hardly matters to a victim if his relative died from being hacked to pieces by a machete or having a bomb dropped on his head from the skies.  The result is the same: death.

There is of course another issue: those “bad guys” we criticize, like Joseph Kony, look like villains.  Meanwhile, the perpetrators of American crimes wear suits and ties, look and talk in a courteous, cool, and calm manner.  As Glenn Greenwald put it:

There are all kinds of people who advocate extremely heinous ideas, but do so in a very soft-spoken and civil manner. Bill Kristol comes to mind, John Yoo, as well. These are people who can go on and be extremely polite in conversation.

Their mannerisms do not change their deeds, which are heinous.  The U.S. presidents have killed more Muslims than Kony has killed Africans.  Noam Chomsky opined:

If the Nuremberg laws were applied, then every post-war American president would have been hanged.

How much easier it is to express indignation over Joseph Kony or, better yet, some Muslim villain?

Update I:

Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian of The Young Turks spoke about the criticism Kona 2012 has been receiving.  To be clear, I largely agree with Uygur’s analysis.  I have an overall positive impression of Invisible Children’s documentary and their efforts.  My article should not be seen as criticism of them, but rather, of us Americans in general.

Additionally, I’d like to respond to a question raised by a reader, who asked:

you guys are living in the U.S.A. yet you criticize it. Why?

It is precisely because I was born, raised, and live in the United States that I speak out against what the government does in my name.  Please refer to Noam Chomsky’s quote above.

Update II:

It has come to light that Invisible Children may be advocating direct U.S. military intervention in the region (see here and here).  Because of this, I withdraw my words of approval for the group (at least for now).

Danios was the Brass Crescent Award Honorary Mention for Best Writer in 2010 and the Brass Crescent Award Winner for Best Writer in 2011.

Kony 2012: Viral video tries to take down Lord’s Resistance Army Leader

Posted in Loon Violence with tags , , , , , on March 8, 2012 by loonwatch

Joseph KonyA former Catholic altar boy from northern Uganda, Joseph Kony has waged war in central Africa for more than two decades.

A video campaign launched by San Diego-based nonprofit, Invisible Children Inc., attempts to harness the power of the Internet–and especially social media, including Twitter, YouTube and Facebook — to stop Joseph Kony, head of the Lord’s Resistance Army. The Uganda-based militia is infamous for killings, kidnappings, mutilations and torture in several African nations.

A 30-minute viral video exposes Kony’s enslavement and abuse of 30,000 children in Uganda, and has received over 10 million views since Monday. The documentary has garnered support from major celebrities, including Oprah Winfrey, Rihanna and Justin Beiber.

Kony attempts to justify his crimes in the name of Christianity, which is clearly a reflection of his own madness rather than a divinely inspired religion. However, the story begs the question: What if he were Muslim? 

Joseph Kony: Profile of the LRA leader

From the BBC

He claims that his Lord’s Resistance Army movement has been fighting to install a government in Uganda based on the Biblical 10 Commandments.

But his rebels now terrorise large swathes of the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and the Central African Republic, and he is wanted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Regional armies are trying to hunt them down with the help of 100 US soldiers.

Mr Kony was due to sign a peace deal with the Ugandan government in 2008, but peace talks fell apart because the LRA leader wanted assurances that he and his allies would not be prosecuted.

Born in the early 1960s in Odek, a village east of Gulu, Mr Kony is remembered as an amiable boy.

“He played football and was a brilliant dancer,” one of his former classmates said, recalling the rebel leader’s days at Odek primary.

The LRA’s aims were heavily influence by the Holy Spirit Movement, a 1980s group that represented the Acholi people of northern Uganda.

Teen LRA VictimThis teenager had her lips, nose and ears cut off by the LRA

The movement was formed by Alice Lakwena, a former prostitute who was believed to be Mr Kony’s cousin.

They felt excluded from power after northern leader Milton Obote was overthrown in a military rebellion, and eventually replaced by current President Yoweri Museveni in 1986.

Ms Lakwena promised her followers immunity from the bullets of the Ugandan army, but Mr Museveni’s troops defeated her movement in 1988 and she fled to Kenya.

After this defeat, Mr Kony founded his own rebel group which over the next 20 years has gone on to abduct thousands of children to become fighters or sex slaves.

Mr Kony himself is thought to have at least 60 wives, as he and his senior commanders take the pick of the girls they capture.

He sees himself as a spirit medium.

“They will tell us what is going to happen. They say ‘you, Mr Joseph, tell your people that the enemy is planning to come and attack’,” he has explained.

Young abductees who have escaped from the LRA say Mr Kony would tell them he got his instructions from the Holy Spirit and would often preach in tongues.

“I will communicate with Museveni through the holy spirits and not through the telephone,” he once said.

He has created an aura of fear and mysticism around himself and his rebels follow strict rules and rituals.

“When you go to fight you make the sign of the cross first. If you fail to do this, you will be killed,” one young fighter who escaped from the LRA told US-based Human Rights Watch.

“You must also take oil and draw a cross on your chest, your forehead, and each shoulder, and you must make a cross in oil on your gun. They say that the oil is the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Mr Kony appears to believe that his role is to cleanse the Acholi people.

He uses biblical references to explain why it is necessary to kill his own people, since they have, in his view, failed to support his cause.

“If the Acholi don’t support us, they must be finished,” he told one abductee.

Christmas massacre

Six years ago, Mr Kony broke his silence and was interviewed on camera in his jungle base at the time in north-eastern DR Congo.

He was surrounded by some of what he estimated were his 3,000 heavily armed fighters, and insisted he was not the monster he was portrayed to be.

“Let me tell you clearly what happened in Uganda. Museveni went into the villages and cut off the ears of the people, telling the people that it was the work of the LRA. I cannot cut the ear of my brother; I cannot kill the eye of my brother.”

He gave the interview at the start of delicate peace process brokered by the authorities South Sudan.

But the negotiations saw splits in LRA ranks and Mr Kony’s deputy, Vincent Otti, who played a key role in the talks, died in mysterious circumstances.

It is believed he may have been murdered on the orders of Mr Kony, who refused to sign the deal.

The LRA later went on a major offensive, carrying out a massacre on Christmas Day 2008.

On that day and over the following three weeks, the LRA beat to death more than 800 people in north-eastern DR Congo and South Sudan, and abducted hundreds more.