We do it for the Children

8 Apr

Finley J. MacDonald 

The film Kony 2012 by the NGO Invisible Children, with its banners and wristbands, recalls Soros and NED-funded colored revolutions with  their appeals to populism.  Then too, it brings to mind Edward Bernays,  father of Public Relations, who in Guatemala manufactured a class A communist demon in the person of Jacabo Arbenz.  Arbenz, you recall, had the temerity to nationalize the United Fruit Company’s banana plantations.  Bernays believed “the crowd” could be persuaded to support the interests of the “intelligent minority” through the use of images, as part of the knee-jerk “conscious and deliberate manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses.”

George Bush said,   “Through much of the last century, America’s faith in freedom and democracy was a rock in a raging sea. Now it is a seed upon the wind, taking root in many nations.”  And why shouldn’t it?  Who couldn’t benefit from America’s conviction of liberty, as framed in the constitution?  Yet, for other ends, Edward Bernays and others have exploited this impulse.  Hired by the American Tobacco Company, Bernays employed the phrase “Torches of Freedom” in a promotional stunt at the Easter Sunday Parade in New York.  The result: thousands of women hooked on cigarettes.  The ploy was right in line with Bernays’ concept of democracy, functioning through “the manufacture of consent”.  According to the manufacture of consent, we buy from a narrow range of goods, a largely meaningless choice.

Over time, the Bernays’ PR seed grew limbs and sophisticated branches.  In the lead-up to the Iraq war, the public relations firm Hill and Knowlton showed us soldiers heaving babies from incubators, for example.  A wide variety of PR organs have sprung up.  NGO’s funded by dubious sources, for example, are a weapon in this arsenal of propaganda.

Many African countries use child soldiers, including Sierra Leone, where this child was photographed

Kony 2012, produced by the NGO Invisible Children, is a high-tech, highly funded, work of propaganda crafted to tap into American psyche.  The mood darkened and mythic, the film commences with a new, exhilarating light edging from behind the earth.  The text suggests, “Nothing is as powerful as an idea whose time has come—whose time is now.”  The background music is subdued but building; it will burst forth triumphantly.  “Now, we see each other,” intones the filmmakers, with perfectly timed pauses.  “We hear each other.  We share what we love, and it reminds us what we all have in common.”   And what we have in common is that we are young and in charge of a game with “new rules”.  What we have in common is birth; “every single one of us started this way.” What we have in common is also children, who “matter” though they didn’t choose the time and place of their birth.  The point is animated by the filmmaker’s own son, Gavin, who “just like his Dad . . . likes being in movies and making movies.”  Then—we dive into the heart Africa, where they young Ugandan Jacob confesses that he wants to die to escape the pain of losing his brother.    

We are invited to identify with the young and compassionate faces of Facebook that collect like a Brady Bunch family around Jacob.  We are invited to stand young and tall against the sordid and nasty image of Kony in the jungle, a real big bad wolf who is “not fighting for any cause.”  (Stand by for the obligatory flash of Hitler and concentration camps . . . a few skulls from Rwanda).  All we have to do to be part of the solution is buy a kit with a wristband.  We don’t have to think too much about the significance of an American military footprint in Africa.  We don’t have to learn anything about the history of imperialism in that general part of the world, of the millions murdered for rubber by King Leopold’s Force Publique, for example, or more locally, the deep ethnic division utilized within Britain’s general strategy of divide and conquer.

Nonetheless, after that first, giddy circulation, a number of reasons to think twice have presented themselves.  The filmmaker himself provides some interesting fodder for reflection.  We note that this peacemaker has gotten his picture taken cradling automatic weapons along with members of the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army.  A proponent of “stealth evangelism,” he reports in a weirdly incongruent talk at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University that “This was the dream . . . to document a genocide . . . We can have fun while we end genocide.  It’s an adventure . . .. We can have a blast doing it.”  In the the course of living his fairly lucrative dream, his NGO is affiliated with undetermined funding sources.  Soon, he breaks down under the pressure of criticism and runs about in the street in his underpants, swinging his arms like an escaped primate.

Imperialism in the Free State of Congo: King Leopold of Belgium’s Force Publique

More importantly, the actual political realities seem to have been somewhat misrepresented.  Kony hasn’t been active for six years.  His arrest warrant by the International Criminal Court (the leader of the country Yoweri Museveni is also wanted)  is a little out-of-date (think 2005).  Kony is rumored to have been killed.  At any rate, the Lord’s Resistance Army has shrunk to hardly more than a gang, with some 500 soldiers; they seem not to be in Uganda at all but in the Central African Republic, Sudan, or the DRC.  In an article from the Guardian Rosebell Kugumire, a Ugandan journalist is quoted: “(The film) paints a picture of Uganda six or seven years ago, that is totally not how it is today. It’s highly irresponsible”.  Not that this would slow Obama down in committing boots on the ground in Uganda (“one hundred” advisers, and I have some oceanfront property in Arizona).  The commitment was sealed without the authorization of congress, a troubling precedent. The Sudan has oil (6.614 billion barrels) as does the Congo (1.94 billion barrels) which also conceals a trove uranium, cobalt, coltan, and rare minerals.  However, the Chinese own the pipelines and the deals. 

It is difficult to escape the conclusion that Kony is the poster boy for AFRICOM, whose mission is to look after “the national security interests of the United States.”  Thus, for the love of children, the cart of imperialism rolls again into the rich heartlands of Africa.   


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