Archive for the ‘President Obama’ Category

President Obama on Gay Marriage: It’s Called Electioneering, Stupid!

It didn’t take long for sensible people to fall all over themselves with praise for President Obama today.

According to the New York Times: “Obama Says Same-Sex Marriage Should Be Legal.”

Naturally, Mitt Romney, his Republican “opponent,” has to contrast himself by taking an opposite stand. According to the Times, “Hours before the president’s announcement, Mr. Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, restated his opposition to same-sex marriage in an interview with KDVR-TV, a Fox News affiliate in Colorado.”

Such silliness.

When it comes to politicians and electoral politics we have decades of experience to draw from. And when a politician makes a comment like saying he supports same-sex marriage, it should be taken with a grain of salt.

Even limited to Obama himself we have enough to judge for ourselves.

Remember back in November 2007 when Barack Obama said that, “If American workers are being denied their right to organize and collectively bargain when I’m in the White House, I will put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself, I’ll will walk on that picket line with you as President of the United States of America”?

In Madison, Wisconsin the only sound you can hear are crickets chirping.

Remember back in the summer of 2008 when presidential candidate Barack Obama said, “It is time to pass Employee Free Choice Act in the Senate, and I will make it a law of the land when I am President of the United States of America”?

Well, he was elected, and Democrats controlled both houses of Congress and the White House, and there was not one attempt “make it a law of the land.” Whoops!

Remember during that same period when Obama said, “I happen to be a proponent of a single-payer universal health care program,” and that, “I see no reason why the United States of America, the wealthiest country in the history of the world, spending 14 percent of its gross national product on health care, cannot provide basic health insurance to everybody”?

Oh wait, that’s right. After he was elected he sung an entirely different tune:

What are not legitimate concerns are those being put forward claiming a public option is somehow a Trojan horse for a single-payer system. I’ll be honest. There are countries where a single-payer system may be working. But I believe — and I’ve even taken some flak from members of my own party for this belief — that it is important for us to build on our traditions here in the United States. So, when you hear the naysayers claim that I’m trying to bring about government-run health care, know this – they are not telling the truth.

Remember on January 22, 2009 when President Obama issued an executive order which stated that, “The detention facilities at Guantánamo for individuals covered by this order shall be closed as soon as practicable, and no later than 1 year from the date of this order,” and that, “If any individuals covered by this order remain in detention at Guantánamo at the time of closure of those detention facilities, they shall be returned to their home country, released, transferred to a third country, or transferred to another United States detention facility in a manner consistent with law and the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States”?

Not only are the detention facilities at Guantánamo still open and active, but detainees, like Inayatullah, are killing themselves to stop the torture that is still going on a year after Obama had ordered the torture center to close. Inayatullah wasn’t returned home, or released, or transferred to a third country, or to the U.S. in compliance with law. He remained at Guantánamo, enduring God knows what, until he finally freed himself by taking his own life.

Even more recently, within the last month, and in regards to President Obama and the LGBT community, the New York Times published Jackie Calmes’ article “Obama Won’t Order Ban on Gay Bias by Employers,” where readers are told that, “President Obama disappointed and vexed gay supporters on Wednesday with his decision, conveyed to activists by a senior adviser, not to sign an executive order banning discrimination by employers with federal contracts.”

It goes on and on and on like the song that never ends.

It is no secret that politicians say one thing and do another. And it’s no big secret as to why that is. Campaigns are costly. For his column at Salon, Glenn Greenwald wrote in his latest article—”Obama ‘evolves’ on marriage“—that, “It may very well be true that Obama took this step not out of any genuine conviction, but because he perceives that high levels of enthusiasm among the Democratic base generally and gay donors specifically are necessary for his re-election.”

Consider Obama’s pro-rhetoric on Labor above, or his executive order on closing Guantánamo. Politicians are constantly responding to power, which generally comes in two forms: the power of money and the power in numbers. They are professionals, and know how to pick their battles. In the absence of an organized national movement mobilized around working class, or environmental, or LGBT issues, or whatever, it should come as no surprise that shrewd, calculating politicians, like President Obama, don’t bite the hands that feed them. The Military Industrial Complex is stronger and better organized than human rights activists. Therefore, Guantánamo remains open. Capital is stronger and better organized than Labor. Therefore, Obama didn’t dare put on his comfortable shoes and occupy Wisconsin’s capitol. The power and influence of “employers” is greater than the LGBT movement. Therefore, President Obama didn’t sign an executive order on gay bias last month.

Besides, there is a caveat that folks are forgetting to consider. President Obama himself kept emphasizing the words “for me personally,” and as CNN reports: “The president said he still supports the concept of states deciding the issue on their own.”

Translation: President Obama will not lift a finger to actually give LGBT people the rights he “personally” supports them to have.

Because of the political implications of his comment during a presidential election, and because there is no organized social movement to counter the influence of the religious right, President Obama has determined that it is only safe enough to say what he “personally” feels is right, but that it’s up to the states to decide.
And considering that fourty-two states outlaw same-sex marriage, with thirty states now having a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage thanks to North Carolina’s recent amendment, President Obama’s “support” for states to decide makes his “support” for same-sex marriage a rather meaningless, empty gesture—which will probably secure a few more votes from kind-hearted folks who didn’t take the time to read the fine print.

Furthermore, it should be noted, so as to pull things into perspective a bit, that Obama’s views has only “evolved” to what was former Vice President Dick Cheney’s view just a few weeks shy of three years ago.

It’s also worth noting that Obama’s historical comparison is Stephen A. Douglas, who personally disapproved of slavery but said that the institution or abolition of slavery should be decided by the state. That position weakened him in the eyes of abolitionists, and cost him the 1860 election—and rightly so. It’s a typical fairweathered response we would expect from a politician; it’s refusal to take stand; a go along with popularity, not morality. And that’s how I feel about President Stephen A. Doubama.

The ‘Inherit Traditions’ of the ‘Free Press’ on Display at White House Correspondents Dinner

April 30, 2012 Leave a comment

US President Barack Obama used an annual star-studded dinner to take a few gentle shots at Mitt Rommey (AFP, Saul Loeb)

As expected, the White House Correspondents Dinner was awful. It was the typical genuflecting, flag-sucking farce where various shades of celebrities show up in their bright smiles and pretend there is such a thing as journalistic integrity in this country, or that their criticisms are that dissentious.

The only worthy moment in the history of the spectacle was several years ago when Steven Colbert roasted former President George W. Bush on the non-existent WMD in Iraq.

This years event could have been made notable if one name was mentioned: Abdulelah Haider Shaye.

Thanks to the reporting by Jeremey Scahill over at The Nation the Western world has some idea of who Shaye is. In mid-March of this year Scahill wrote about Shaye in his article “Why Is President Obama Keeping a Journalist in Prison in Yemen?“:

While Shaye, 35, had long been known as a brave, independent-minded journalist in Yemen, his collision course with the US government appears to have been set in December 2009. On December 17, the Yemeni government announced that it had conducted a series of strikes against an Al Qaeda training camp in the village of al Majala in Yemen’s southern Abyan province, killing a number of Al Qaeda militants. As the story spread across the world, Shaye traveled to al Majala. What he discovered were the remnants of Tomahawk cruise missiles and cluster bombs, neither of which are in the Yemeni military’s arsenal. He photographed the missile parts, some of them bearing the label “Made in the USA,” and distributed the photos to international media outlets. He revealed that among the victims of the strike were women, children and the elderly. To be exact, fourteen women and twenty-one children were killed. Whether anyone actually active in Al Qaeda was killed remains hotly contested. After conducting his own investigation, Shaye determined that it was a US strike. The Pentagon would not comment on the strike and the Yemeni government repeatedly denied US involvement. But Shaye was later vindicated when Wikileaks released a US diplomatic cable that featured Yemeni officials joking about how they lied to their own parliament about the US role, while President Saleh assured Gen. David Petraeus that his government would continue to lie and say “the bombs are ours, not yours.”

According to Scahill, it was Shaye’s reporting that landed him in jail where he is still a political prisoner thanks to pressure emanating from the Obama administration. As Scahill noted, “For many journalists in Yemen, the publicly available ‘facts’ about how Shaye was ‘assisting’ AQAP indicate that simply interviewing Al Qaeda–associated figures, or reporting on civilian deaths caused by US strikes, is a crime in the view of the US government.”

But Shaye went unmentioned at the White House Correspondents Dinner. And media sources like the New York Times failed to note this. In fact, the Times published four articles on the White House Correspondents Dinner. And despite President Obama having spoke of our “inherit traditions that make us greater than the challenges we face,” which according to him is “a free press that isn’t afraid to ask questions, to examine and to criticize,” there is not one example of this in those articles.

One of the articles, “Much Fodder for Obama at White House Journalists’ Event,” which was buried in the back of the paper on Sunday’s edition, had the unmitigated audacity to refer to there being “much fodder.” But the biggest fodder of all—President Obama’s involvement in silencing a journalist—is apparently not worthy of mention.

Even Jimmy Kimmel, whose performance paled to Colbert’s in 2006, at least had the nerve to say,

You’re here tonight because as journalists you care about freedom, free speech, a free press, and most importantly free dinner. Some people say journalism is in decline—you’ve become too politicized, too focused on sensationalism. They say that you no longer honor your duty to inform America, but instead actively try to divide us, so your corporate overlords can rake in the profits . . . I don’t have a joke for this. I’m just letting you know what some people say.

Other than Kimmel’s jab at the possible war with Iran, that was the height of dissent that evening. But it also highlighted the level of cynicism at the event. The attending journalists “care [so much] about freedom, free speech, a free press,” and such, that they are totally silent on the imprisonment of a fellow journalist guilty of doing his job.

If the journalists were doing their job they would be very concerned about Shaye’s fate, and would have used the dinner as a venue to speak out. They would do so not just because they feel tremendous solidarity for someone in their profession that is enduring such an injustice, but also because they would see how they are vulnerable too.

The reality, however, is that the journalists who attended the dinner, and those that covered it at the “paper of record,” know they are not in danger of being treated like Shaye because they don’t ask questions, don’t examine, and don’t criticize—at least not in any substantial way. They can applaud President Obama for blessing them with his inspiring words about their “traditions” they don’t exhibit. And when President Obama tells them that, “And in service of that mission, all of you make sacrifices,” they pat themselves on the back, and swell with undeserved pride. Then they are free to go home, drunk on champagne, and go to bed where they can sleep comfortably and without worry. Meanwhile, Abdulelah Haider Shaye sits in a prison cell, enduring God knows what, for daring to be a real journalist.

The Betrayal of Labor by Labor: On cynicism and deceit

April 26, 2012 Leave a comment

What you are about to read is typical of 99.99% of labor unions in this country.

It’s also a classic tragedy.

Labor unions have a special place in history, not just here in the U.S., but all over the world. Workers organizing institutions to defend themselves and advance their own agenda—i.e., protect themselves from the exploits of Capital and, for some, abolish it—is a noble story of the weak standing up to the powerful.

But for a while now, unions have become tools of exploitation of the working class.

The United Food & Commercial Workers union spends $350,000 a year on the salary and benefits of their labor boss, Joseph Hansen, who doesn’t have a real job. What Hansen apparently does for a living is spend $2-4 million of UFCW dues on election campaigns for the Democratic Party each election cycle. On their website Americans are told to vote for President Obama because he has the workers “interest at heart.”

At a time when workers are under attack by big corporations, special interests, and their cronies in government, President Obama has been an unyielding friend to working men and women. He has stayed true to the vision he outlined to the UFCW nearly four years ago. He is the only candidate for President in 2012 that has our interests at heart.

Not only has President Obama signed three free trade agreements and recently signed the JOBS Act—which Matt Taibbi of Rollingstone magazine writes “is not just a sweeping piece of deregulation that will have an increase in securities fraud as an accidental, ancillary consequence,” but that “this law actually appears to have been specifically written to encourage fraud in the stock markets”—but for two years the Democrats controlled the White House and Congress, and made not one attempt to pass Employee Free Choice Act. Then there is President Obama’s bail out of the American auto industry which weakened workers and sent more jobs overseas, while at the same time contracting Spanish workers to build a rail system for us.

How the UFCW can keep a straight face when saying “President Obama has been an unyielding friend to working men and women” who “has stayed true to the vision he outlined to the UFCW nearly four years ago,” leaving him to be “the only candidate for President in 2012 that has our interests at heart” is remarkable. This is cynicism and deceit at its finest.

The reality is that unions are not democratically-controlled by their workers. More and more they are used to control workers, as witnessed in Wisconsin two years ago when labor bosses pushed workers away from direct action.

How can Labor defend itself when it is led by lawyers and crooks who are not even a part of the working class? Labor bosses are looking after their own interests, which is separate from that of the workers they claim to represent, and which is to maintain their CEO salaries.

Labor writer Steve Early recently wrote on the “survival strategies” of modern unions. In highlighting the prevailing conditions, Early quoted sociologist Stanley Aronowitzs as stating, “In short, the [worker] is now generally a client of the union rather than its owner” because for labor leaders “to call upon their members to conduct collective political fights — including direct actions that might disturb the comfortable relationship that the leadership enjoys with the employer — is well beyond the perspective, and therefore, the capacity, of the union.” According to Early, workers “must take ownership of their own organizations and return them to their workplace roots.”

That is absolutely right. Labor bosses have more in common with employers than the workers they claim to represent. Which is why labor bosses often act like bosses by keeping workers under control.

Again, the occurence in Wisconsin is a perfect example. Governor Walker’s bill contained numerous provisions that were harmful to the working class. But it was only the provision on collective bargaining rights that upset some Democrats and labor bosses like AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, the latter being the one who wrote in the Wall Street Journal: “So here’s working America’s message to governors like Scott Walker and New Jersey’s Chris Christie: We believe in shared sacrifice.”

Translating gobbledygook: By “shared sacrifice” Trumka means “we will accept everything else in the bill but the provision on collective bargaining rights because that would in effect put me out of a job, and I rather enjoy my salary, hooking for the Democrats, and keeping the workers under control.”

Trumka, a lawyer with a CEO salary, claims to know “working America’s message.” The man couldn’t be anymore out of tune with the working class if he were a Republican.

Trumka then went on Meet the Press and the argument he used to prove that Walker’s bill was not about the “budget crisis” was because Trumka said “the employees said, or the members out there said, his workers said, ‘We’ll accept your cuts.’ ”

Again, Richard Trumka speaks for the working class.

And when Wisconsin workers started making moves towards a real general strike the labor bosses quickly shut them down and moved them into the political sphere via the “recall” effort where they were leading the effort, not the workers.

It is because of madness like this that workers must do as Early noted: “take ownership of their own organizations and return them to their workplace roots.”

And there is a labor organization structured to do that: the Industrial Workers of the World. If workers from other unions ever make such an effort they would have a model to learn from. The IWW is made up of various branches who retain autonomy. There is no President of the union making a CEO salary while spending millions more on a political party that constantly targets the working class for assault. The goal of the IWW is to abolish not only wage slavery, but bosses as well. It makes no sense to struggle with bosses at work, yet accept a boss in the union. For Wobblies, one boss is one boss too many.

The class divisions that have taken shape in labor unions—between the working class and the coordinator class—has allowed for a massive betrayal, and just like what is true for the economy, the same holds true for unions. Only by putting them under democratic control by the workers themselves can unions return to their “workplace roots.”

NYT Admits Ahmadinejad Never Threatend to Wipe Israel Off the Map but . . .

April 19, 2012 Leave a comment
Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

After seven long years of warmongering fanatics in Israel and the U.S. claiming that Iran’s President Ahmadinejad threatened to exterminate Israel, the New York Times finally decided to investigate.

In Robert Mackey’s blog, “Israeli Minister Agrees Ahmadinejad Never Said Israel ‘Must Be Wiped Off the Map’,” readers are told how Israel’s minister of intelligence and atomic energy, Dan Meridor, recently sat down with Al Jazeera’s Teymoor Nabili, where the latter said,

This idea that Iran wants to wipe Israel out, now that’s a common trope that is put about by a lot of people in Israel, a lot of people in the United States, but as we know Ahmadinejad didn’t say that he plans to exterminate Israel, nor did he say that Iran’s policy is to exterminate Israel.

—to which Meridor replied, “You’re right.”

Elsewhere on the fringe of the media it was widely known that Ahmadinejad never said Iran wanted to exterminate Israel, and that a more accurate interpretation was that the current regime will not last; that history will eventually see the nightmare pass. It was more a prophetic statement about what Ahmadinejad saw as inevitable. The Zionist government in Israel, that is stealing and occupying Palestinian land, abusing non-Jews, and waging wars against its neighbors will not last forever.

And while it’s still a bomb-shell of an admission there is a “but.” Despite the fact that Mackey finally lets the cat out of the bag, Iran’s negative view of Israel is still harped on as some sign that they are the bad guy. It is never considered that the myth has been exploited for seven years by those who want war, and how such warmongering from the U.S. and Israel might be behind Iran’s negative views. You see, we can be frothing at the mouth with eagerness to attack another country—while running for President back in 2008 Hillary Clinton can say she would “totally obliterate,” and President Obama can smile while saying “all options are on the table” when referring to a military attack against Iran—but our press will ignore that and focus on those who are declared an “enemy” of the state.

For example, Mackey writes that, “Mr. Meridor also pointed out that Iran’s leaders have continued to deny Israel’s right to exist and used highly inflammatory terms to describe the state.” The blog continues with numerous examples of this, even accompanied with pictures that are supposed to show the depth of Iranian depravity.

Mackey, however, does not deal with the grim realities of Israel’s polices in the region, and towards its own non-Jewish minorities. In other words, the context of why Iran, and many others, hold such negative views of Israel is never explored. The word “Palestine” or “Palestinian” is not mentioned at all, nor are the settlements and massive wars of aggression like the attack on Gaza in 2008/2009. Decades of expanding settlements, kidnappings, Mossad terrorist attacks against Iranian scientists, Israeli invasions, torture, murder, and more are completely expunged—leaving nothing but the horrible things Iran says about Israel.

In the middle of all this talk about not recognizing Israel’s right to exist, or wiping Israel off the map, there is no talk about Israel not recognizing Palestine’s right to exist, or there very real policies of slowly wiping Palestine off the map.

Notice this map ends at 1999; a lot more land has been gobbled up over the last 13 years

It was also very disconcerting to read where Mackey wrote that Ahmadinejad has “made so little effort to explain that he was misquoted,” but he never questions why Western media made so little effort to ask him.

And that brings up another thing that I have always found revealing about the journalistic integrity of the New York Times, and other Western media sources.

In May 2003 it was revealed by investigative journalist Gareth Porter that Iran made a peace offer to the U.S. and Israel, and that President Bush punished the messenger for delivering the offer.

We also know that Iran has supported FISSBAN, an international program that would put nuclear facilities under strict control and supervision of a team of international inspectors.

This begs a few questions: Why, in the middle of the drums to war, has the NYT, and other mainstream sources of the so-called “free press,” not explicitly asked Ahmadinejad: “Mr. President, does your 2003 peace offer still stand?,” and, “Does your government still support FISSBAN?” These two questions could go a long way to easing tensions and making peace. Readers of the Times should be inquiring as to why the “paper of record” has “made so little effort” to use their prominence, and simply ask.

Don’t Fall for the Phony Kony Scare

March 8, 2012 3 comments
Founders of Invisible Children pose with weapons and fighters from the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, an organization notorious for looting and rape.

It went viral and spread like wild fire. A 30 minute documentary about the nefarious Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Uganda pulled at the heart strings of scores of people all over the world.

It’s like Save Darfur all over again. Lots of white college liberals pretending to care for Africa, not realizing their own paternalism and colonialism, and simultaneously getting it wrong by being unwitting stooges to an imperial propaganda campaign.

In their book The Politics of Genocide, Edward Herman and David Peterson refer to Darfur as a “nefarious” bloodbath in that it was “carried out by U.S. target states.” When the U.S. carries out a bloodbath like it did in Libya and Iraq that is “constructive.” When an enemy does it it is “nefarious” and sometimes “mythical.” Herman and Peterson write about,

the obvious facts that have made Darfur a predictably well-qualified candidate for a focus on villainy: That its government is dominated by Muslim Arabs; that the Sudan possesses oil, but that it is China rather than the United States or the West which has developed a strong relationship with Khartoum; and that the United States and Israel need distractions from their own human rights atrocities and those of their allies plundering the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo.

On the rhetoric surrounding the conflict the writers state that,

As Mahmood Mamdani puts it, such rhetoric is also a “reduction of a complex political context to a morality tale unfolding in a world populated by villains and victims who never trade places and so can always and easily be told apart.” In this “simple moral world,” where “evil confronts good” and “atrocities mount geometrically,” a group of “perpetrators clearly identifiable as ‘Arabs’ confront victims clearly identifiable as ‘Africans’”—and the “victim [is] untainted and the perpetrator [is] simply evil.”

And that,

the distinction made by Kristof, Power, Reeves, and their many allies in the Save Darfur campaign between Sudan’s Arab rulers and their black African victims falsely racializes the conflict. As the 2005 Report of the International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur concluded, any rendering of the conflicts in the western Sudan as “African” versus “Arab” mistakes political identities, which are the consequences of these conflicts, as their causes. “The various tribes that have been the object of attacks and killings (chiefly the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa tribes) do not appear to make up ethnic groups distinct from the ethnic group to which persons or militias that attack them belong,” the Commission stated. “They speak the same language (Arabic) and embrace the same religion (Islam).” Contrary to Kristof et al., the government in Khartoum is comprised of black Africans no different than the black Africans in the western Sudan that oppose it. The relevant distinction in the Western Sudan is thus a political one that turns on supporting the government (“Arab”) versus opposing it (“African”). The alleged “Arab-African divide” is one that has been “fanned by the growing insistence on such a divide in some circles and in the media” (in particular the white European and U.S. media); it is a process that has “contributed to the consolidation of the contrast and gradually created a marked polarisation in the perception and self-perception of the groups concerned.” The “Crisis in Darfur” is thus a kind of blank slate upon which Western moralists have projected foreign categories that betray the nature of the interest they take in the conflict, but do not reflect the realities or genuine needs of the people involved.

Additionally, the UN Environment Program argued in an extensive 2007 survey that the “underlying causes” of the conflicts in Darfur were to be found in factors such as regional climate instability, drought, desertification, population growth, food insecurity, and over-exploitation of scarce resources; it concluded that “Darfur is degraded to the extent that it cannot sustainably support its rural population.” Referring to this report, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon noted that “Almost invariably, we discuss Darfur in a convenient military and political shorthand—an ethnic conflict pitting Arab militias against black rebels and farmers. Look to its roots, though, and you discover a more complex dynamic. Amid the diverse social and political causes, the Darfur conflict began as an ecological crisis, arising at least in part from climate change. . . . It is no accident that the violence in Darfur erupted during the drought.” Another report issued in 2007 by a “blue-ribbon panel of retired admirals and generals” for the CNA Corporation noted similarly that “Struggles that appear to be tribal, sectarian, or nationalist in nature are often triggered by reduced water supplies or reductions in agricultural productivity.” This report added that the “situation in Darfur . . . had land resources at its root. . . . Probably more than any other recent conflict, Darfur provides a case study of how existing marginal situations can be exacerbated beyond the tipping point by climaterelated factors.”

The problem with the documentary on Kony is it is a propaganda campaign that gets so many things wrong that it isn’t funny, hence the Save Darfur comparison (and it doesn’t help that the people from Invisible Children were from that campaign as well).

(For an indepth analysis to the rise of the LRA see here.)

Like Darfur, there are some “obvious facts that have made [Kony] a predictably well-qualified candidate for a focus on villainy.”

Last year President Obama announced he was sending forces to aid Uganda in the civil war which has been going on since the 1980s, and is winding down (see here for an article I wrote on this last October). LRA forces are less than 500. So why now? One word: oil. Oil has been found in the country and foreign investors want the “stability” to hurry up and get here so they can drill, baby, drill.

Luckily, the film hasn’t gone without criticism, especially from Ugandans. The Ugandan writer Musa Okwonga criticized the film in a blog for the UK’s The Independent by saying that,

I understand the anger and resentment at Invisible Children’s approach, which with its paternalism has unpleasant echoes of colonialism. I will admit to being perturbed by its apparent top-down prescriptiveness, when so much diligent work is already being done at Northern Uganda’s grassroots.

Okwonga also noted that,

The thing is that Joseph Kony has been doing this for a very, very, very long time.  He emerged about a quarter of a century, which is about the same time that Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni came to power.  As a result the fates of these two leaders must, I think, be viewed together.  Yet, though President Museveni must be integral to any solution to this problem, I didn’t hear him mentioned once in the 30-minute video.  I thought that this was a crucial omission.

Like Okwonga noted, what the video doesn’t tell you is that the dictator of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, is a genocidal mass-murderer who makes Joseph Kony look like an angel. Estimates of deaths attributed to the LRA number no more than 40,000. While this is still a high figure it pales in comparison to the more than 7 million attributed to Museveni via the genocides in Rwanda and Congo—not to mention his butchery at home in Uganda.

While Invisible Children responded to criticism by saying that, “We do not defend any of the human rights abuses perpetrated by the Ugandan government or the Ugandan army,” it is odd that in their film they advocate further arming the Ugandan army to hunt down and capture Kony. Clearly they do defend the human rights abuses by the Ugandan government by ignoring it and calling on them to shut down another human rights abuser whose crimes are minor compared to Museveni’s.

Serious question to be asked: Why focus on Kony, and not the much bigger threat to human rights, President Museveni?

Another question: why not focus on the economic policies of the U.S. that have created the conditions for which all of Africa are suffering (see my interview with Senegalese economist Demba Moussa Dembélé for more information, or my article “The Times and the Congo: A Nightmare of Epic Proportions“)? These are much more pressing issues than the exaggerated threat of Kony.

This stinks of imperialism and another example of Western intervention packaged and presented as “humanitarianism.” Like Herman and Peterson wrote of the “Crisis in Darfur,” the “Kony 2012” slogan “is thus a kind of blank slate upon which Western moralists have projected foreign categories that betray the nature of the interest they take in the conflict, but do not reflect the realities or genuine needs of the people involved.”

Writing in Foreign Affairs last November, Mareike Schomerus, Tim Allen, and Koen Vlassenroot, noted that:

During the past decade, U.S.-based activists concerned about the LRA have successfully, if quietly, pressured the George W. Bush and Obama administrations to take a side in the fight between the LRA and the Ugandan government. Among the most influential of advocacy groups focusing specifically on the LRA are the Enough project, the Resolve campaign, the Canadian-based group GuluWalk, and the media-oriented group Invisible Children. Older agencies, from Human Rights Watch to World Vision, have also been involved. In their campaigns, such organizations have manipulated facts for strategic purposes, exaggerating the scale of LRA abductions and murders and emphasizing the LRA’s use of innocent children as soldiers, and portraying Kony — a brutal man, to be sure — as uniquely awful, a Kurtz-like embodiment of evil. They rarely refer to the Ugandan atrocities or those of Sudan’s People’s Liberation Army, such as attacks against civilians or looting of civilian homes and businesses, or the complicated regional politics fueling the conflict.

And an Ugandan journalist, Rosebell Kagumire, responded to the documentary by saying,

I viewed it this morning and the first 5 minutes told me this was another effort by a good white American guy trying to save my people. In this story Ugandans are just mere watchers as Kony kills our children. In this story not much can an African do. It is the same old sensationalization of African stories and simplification of our problems to tell the western world using even his son that they should save Africa. How? by giving us money.

It’s a narrative that many of us of the continent who work in the media always look at in disbelief but such videos are easy to enter the hearts of an ignorant Western audience who do not question the narrative.

The film is void of any means like peace efforts that have gone on and it simplifies the war to Joseph Kony — a mad evil man. This war was bigger than Joseph Kony and those who will end it won’t be Americans. It’s a complex war that requires African governments of Uganda, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Central African Republic to work together to pacify the region. And when I heard him say that Uganda is in central Africa despite [him] having visited here I almost stopped watching.

All in all it’s a very imperialistic film trying to touch sentiments of those who can ‘save’ Africa i.e. Hollywood and the West.

The Kony 2012 campaign is a propaganda stunt. It is hard to believe the film makers have good intentions, like many are claiming. In a continent ravaged by the World Bank and IMF, or U.S.-backed dictators like Museveni and Rwanda’s Paul Kagame, it is hard to believe they don’t know this, and that they sincerely think Joseph Kony and his decrepit army are the boogeyman of Africa.

Do yourself a favor and don’t fall for the phony Kony scare. Like the Rage Against the Machine song “No Shelter” (which was written for the 1998 Godzilla movie) said: Kony 2012 is “pure motherfuckin’ filler” to “keep your eyes off tha real killer.”

UPDATE: Nearly everyone I’ve pointed this out to has gotten a bit defensive. And I get it. You realize you’ve been suckered, and that’s not a great feeling. But before you say, “I believe the film makers have good intentions,” or “this will at least get people to dig deeper,” let’s be honest. It is really difficult to think they have good intentions. They have been intentionally deceptive, and their omissions are very revealing.

<sarcasm>The film makers are such glorious humanitarians with good intentions that they ignore genocidal mass-murderers, and the Washington Consensus, while posing with fighters and weapons from a terrorist army in Sudan that rapes and pillages and loots.</sarcasm>

And, no, others won’t dig deeper. What this propaganda film is doing is setting the narrative. Only those exposed to critics will have a clue that there is more to dig, and there is no reason to believe there are that many critics to counter the confusion and deception the film is creating.