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Monthly Archives: March 2012

I wanted to quickly discuss Alexandra Pelosi and her picking-on poor folks.

This first video is interviews of conservative folks in Mississippi. The caricatures range from a kid in a WalMart parking lot talking about how he doesn’t like Obama because he’s Muslim, to an old dude saying racist things about Obama to a toothless guy living in abject poverty yet still votes for Republicans. The implication is the same as Thomas Frank’s thesis. These folks aren’t voting for their wellbeing, they’re voting for their values and their racism – why would they do such a thing?

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Often, when I’ve criticized international relief efforts to friends and family, I’m asked “Well, what would you do?” It’s a valid question and it’s been asked of me so frequently that I now try to include some possible solutions after I’ve leveled a criticism. I should also note that these “solutions” sometimes aren’t really solutions, nor are they always good or better ideas than the one I’m being critical of.

A lot of rebuttals to the KONY2012 criticism that I’ve seen have an air of “What would you do, then?” There is only one simple answer to that question: there is no simple answer to that question. Nonetheless, there are resources out there to help would-be do-gooders understand what the issue is. It takes work to do the research because the strife in the Great Lakes region of Africa (DRC, CAR and Uganda) is complex.

The most helpful organization that I’ve come across is advocacy organization Africa Canada Accountability Coalition. They are a public-policy think-tank that has taken a different tact to their advocacy efforts than other organizations. In addition to their policy efforts, they have put together a wonderful presentation and document titled “So, You Want To ‘Save’ Africa”? This presentation lays out a progressive, empowerment-oriented strategy for people who want to assist with the ongoing strife in the African Great Lakes region.
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A Long Post is probably not forthcoming today. I have side-work that I need to concentrate on. However, I wanted to drop this for today: a more complete and in-depth analysis of the military/intervention “solution” that is proposed in the KONY 2012 video. It was written up by the Department of War Studies at King’s College in London.

Invisible Children’s Military Disconnect — money quote:

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A slick and captivating documentary has been spreading wildly on Facebook within the last week. This video, KONY 2012, centers on war criminal and mass murderer Joseph Kony, who is the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda, and there is no doubt that this is a very bad guy. However, there’s something off and misplaced in the newly-found outrage among Facebookers.

First, a very brief item about Kony and the LRA, since people who have seen the video are no doubt familiar with the LRA leader by now. The LRA has been abducting children, murdering and raping its way around Uganda since 1986. The LRA has no identifiable ideology or purpose other than to maintain the power of Joseph Kony.

In the aftermath of September 11th and the ramping up of the “War on Terrorism,” the United States has paid special attention in trying to put an end to Kony’s rampage. The International Criminal Court has issued arrest warrants for Kony and other members of the Lord’s Resistance Army. The United Nations has launched covert operations to capture or kill Kony. The Obama Administration has made capturing Kony a priority, when Obama deployed 100 advisors to aid African governments in apprehending Kony. All of these facts are stated in the video.

The United States and the world government has not exactly been laying down on the job, yet the video asserts that if everyone in the world knew who Joseph Kony was then he would have been arrested by now. Continuously, the video asserts that its main point is to move people to action. What action, exactly? The action, the video says, is to ultimately provide technology, arms and assistance to the Ugandan Army.

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In recent decades, American leftist groups have concentrated on organizing city-based constituents: urban communities of color, urban working class whites and college students. This falls in line with areas that the Left has usually organized, and it has been successful to varying degrees; however, there is a noticeable lack of trying to organize rural workers, farmers and the like.

This lack of organization is for a variety of reasons, which are important but not as important as the consequence. The consequence being: rural communities ignored by the left have allowed right-wing organizers to come in and take advantage of rural commitment to their church, family values and rural lifestyle. Due to this, rural communities and small towns are frequently the political targets of culture battles. The most recent example of this culture battle in the news comes from Ohio, where a small town (Uniopolis, Ohio) faces disincorporation due to budget cuts.

(Make no mistake that budget cuts are a culture war right now. Programs are being cut because of the perception that programs meant to help poor people are wasteful, while tax breaks for the rich are helpful. As Warren Buffet made clear, “there’s been class warfare going on for the last 20 years, and my class has won.”)

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