make yourself invisible
Oh, the kids are out in Austin this weekend, and this time, they're protesting. Inasmuch as lounging under the live oaks in an "LRA camp" on the lawn of the state capitol can be called "protesting." Or "suffering" for that matter.
Sigh. Invisible Children is a fantastic example of exactly the worst kind of advocacy on behalf of victims of armed conflict. It's ethnocentric, culturally insensitive, and apparently driven by the idea that having American college kids pull stunts like this weekend's "Rescue" will somehow make the lives of children in Northern Uganda better.
(Ways they have actually helped children in Northern Uganda after 5+ years of ridiculous t-shirts and mediocre films that don't really explain the situation: Support for ten schools.
Which is a good thing. But it took how many millions of dollars and wasted years to do it?)
The problem with IC, as Professor Blattman pointed out a couple of months ago, isn't that they're raising awareness about a serious situation. It's that they're doing it in an entirely self-centered, White Man's burden, rich kids off to "save Africa" way. "Abducting yourself" is just ridiculous; there's no way that a night or two out under the stars downtown comes remotely close to helping students empathize with the Ugandan children who face the fear of abduction every night. And it's not really an "abduction" when you know that at any time you can go home.
By all accounts, the IC organization is seen as a bit of a joke in northern Uganda. This isn't suprising seeing as there's no evidence that IC's ideas for helping with the situation appear to actually come from Ugandans themselves. In that sense, IC falls prey to the same problems as do many, many other advocacy organizations. They waste time, effort, and money while taking years to do the very minimum to change the situation they want to help improve. I have no doubt that IC's intentions are good. But their approach is deeply misguided, and the effect they have isn't that far removed from holding a concert to wish the world's poor good luck.
The fact that it's Sunday night and the kids here in Austin have still yet to be "rescued" by any of our local celebrities (and I have it on good authority that Lance Armstrong was at the Hula Hut tonight) is perhaps the most telling thing of all. Turns out that mediocre advocacy in the form of stunts don't accomplish much.