Shout out to the folks who did and didn’t get caught up in the Invisible Children campaign to “stop” Joseph Kony. It got a lot of big celebrities and social media users (including me, in my pre-woke 22 years on this earth) and, as Sunnie Fraser explained in their piece for gal-dem, it unravelled quickly but not before it served as a progenitor of modern liberal digital activism:
It’s Thursday 15 March 2012, a sunny morning in San Diego, California. Suddenly, a flurry of calls light up the San Diego Police Department switchboard. A white man has been spotted, naked and distressed, running through the streets of the city.
It’s a harrowing scene. He’s pounding the pavement and ranting incoherently about “the Devil”. Some onlookers stop to film, as he intercepts ongoing traffic whilst shouting at passers-by. Eventually, the cops arrive. The man is detained for allegedly masturbating and being drunk in public, then hospitalised.
The young man was Jason Russell, co-founder of NGO Invisible Children. His meltdown was the climax of 10 days of virality. On 5 March of that year, Russell and his team had uploaded a 30-minute documentary titled ‘Stop Kony’ to YouTube. Its subject was Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony and the impact of his war crimes on Uganda – a country fraught by decades of socio-political turmoil. With Hollywood polish, Invisible Children pleaded for people to join their campaign to ‘Make Kony famous’ and spread the word of his use of child soldiers.
There’s still a lot of it happening now (even during the current Ukrainian conflict) and while some people may be helped through the various donations and offers of refuge, there’s still a lot of virtue signalling and people being left behind after the dust settles and just before it.