It is actually a graphic novel, Army of God: Joseph Kony’s War in Central Africa.
FP offers an excerpt online: Chapter 8 – Invisible Children, describing how the KONY 2012 video became the most viral in history.
Here is a short preview. Your mild mannered academic appears on the third page. (Hat tip to Tom Murphy)
I think I may have a new profile picture!
Somewhat to my dismay, not only am I not a superhero with awesome superpowers, but I may even be a supervillain. Well, maybe just a regular villain, but apparently a merciless one. The story arc goes directly from our critiques to Jason Russell’s breakdown. This is not how I always hoped I would be immortalized in song and story, but I guess you have to take what you can get.
(In a small voice I will actually point out that I wrote those words three years before KONY 2012. Also, the Invisible Children post I actually wrote after KONY 2012 tends to defend them. But this is a comic, after all, and I’m a stand-in for academics at large, who were indeed merciless.)
Why was that? While we are on the superhero metaphor, many believe that with great power comes great responsibility. What did IC do with their great power? This is where a lot of people have become disappointed–the absence of clear, substantive, sensible policy changes to advocate for.
It’s not entirely their fault–everyone seems to be at a loss with what to do, and the politically realistic moves (e.g. cut Kony a plea, or drone him down) are not that palatable to the human rights community. By the time IC got truly successful their cause (the war) was mostly over. What’s an advocacy group to do?
Reading on in the comic, I can’t decide if the author is blindingly supportive of IC or subtly damning them with faint praise. Most of the “impacts” happen in 2005 or 2010. I am also thinking about lines like “Inasmuch as awareness was the goal, Invisible Children’s efforts were a smashing success,” which is a little like congratulating Mitt Romney for making everyone aware of his positions. What matters is the end result.
Intended or not, the novel more or less gets the movement right. I’m interested in reading the full thing. My copies should arrive in a couple of days. In the meantime, if you’re interested in raising your awareness of the conflict in other ways, some suggestions:
- Here’s a northern Uganda reading list.
- My work (and downloadable data on child recruits) here.
- There is also this new book on the LRA, which includes my “why child soldiers” piece as a chapter.
- Finally, free online is an online resource of information on the conflict developed in response to the Western Kony craze.