Kill the White Messiah

Look into the mirror”. Noam Chomsky’s sobering and instructive words hold good advice to a new generation of ‘Warriors of Light’ who are awakening to injustice in the world we live in. Social justice, much like the neo-liberal agenda, has globalized in the past couple of decades or so. No injustice is too far away to intervene and correct. If the globe is truly universally connected today as they say, you need to introspect how you are connected to the world you seek to change.

Invisible Children’s YouTube phenomenon Kony 2012 promises to do just that. Except it lies.

Kony 2012 is not only misinforming the hottest demographic in the world it seeks to target, teenagers and yuppies, it is paternalistic and pure old-school Western racism. If anything, it is a classic disinformation programme. Remember the ‘Nurse Nayirah’ incident?

Nayirah, a young nurse in Kuwait, was flown in to the United States’ Congress in 1990 to testify before them the horrors of the atrocities committed during the Iraqi invasion in her country. She recounted stories, as she choked emotionally before Senators and millions of Americans watching, of how the barbaric Iraqi soldiers broke into hospitals and threw babies out of their incubators to die on the streets. In months leading up to America’s involvement in the First Gulf War, George H Bush would invoke Nayirah’s testimony on every platform he appeared as a rationale to seek public support for joining Kuwait in the war. This is just what they needed to claim the moral backing of the American public, and as public opinion polled in favour of the war, the US started wantonly bombing Iraq. As it so happened, ‘Nurse’ Nayirah was no nurse at all – she turned out to be the daughter of then Kuwaiti Ambassador to the United States who was coached to rehearse her testimony. The whole media circus of her testimony and influencing public opinion in support of the war was brought to the American public by one of the biggest PR firms in business at its time – Hill & Knowlton. By the time this knowledge became public, Kuwait was on its way to ‘liberation’, and Americans had once again learnt it the hard way that the first casualty in war is truth.

So how do you make sure if Kony 2012’s moral compass is pointing in the direction of justice? Let’s start with Uganda.

The incumbent Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni, has gladly accepted ‘structural adjustment programmes” for his country proposed by the World Bank and IMF since the 1980s, that encourage Third World countries with dictators and ‘natural allies of the West’ to keep borrowing more credit. It means ‘growth’ for Uganda in the long-run, achieved by speculative and export-oriented agriculture and liberalizing trade at all levels. It’s no surprise that Uganda is suffering a food crisis too, because that’s how the Washington Consensus works – the Third World, which now imports basic sustenance crops, produces crops for the First World, with scant regard to local temperatures and geographical factors. In a sharp reaction to this inequality in India, journalist P Sainath once remarked – “The dream of the Indian farmer is to be born a European cow“, because the latter are the most food-secure creatures on the planet thanks to the generosity of the former. With the recent discovery of oil reserves in Uganda, it won’t be long before Big Oil kills more Ken Saro Wiwas there.

If economic terrorism isn’t good enough for you, then let’s take a look at Museveni’s downright terrorism. He’s Family International’s ‘key man’ in Africa. Family International is the largest fundamental Christian evangelical organization from the West; the Book of Revelations Nazis, if you will. They’ve had every American President in their pockets since WWII. On the very first day of his job, the American President, including Barack Obama, has presided over the National Prayer Breakfast organized by the FI, where he vows to “end suffering and bring Christ’s message around the world”. That’s why they’ve been instrumental in shaping the world in many ways; be it attempting to crush liberation theology that seeks to connect the poor and the meek to Christ’s original gospels in Latin American countries through the 1980s, funding rebel groups such as the Contras in Nicaragua, lobbying with the US government to support Israel’s occupation of Palestine or simply bringing down ‘un-Godly’ communism in Poland.

There’s no other reason why he’s been described as ‘a new breed of African leaders’ by the West.

One might wonder, with Museveni boasting of a devil’s resume, things are bound to be in shambles in his own country, which is exactly what Kony 2012 doesn’t inform you about. Yes, what Joseph Kony does as the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army by abducting children and raising an infantry is obviously terrible and sad. Those kids need rehabilitation and justice as much as any other victims around the world, but let’s not lose context, for it helps connect the past to the present and identify the real problems that foster Konies around the world. Like several countries around the world, Uganda’s at war with itself. The ethnic-conflict caused by unbalanced socio-economic factors between the North and the South is an inheritance of British colonialism, which has been left untouched by successive governments post Uganda’s independence in the 1960s. Fifty years of marginalization and deprivation of North Ugandans might be border-line genocidal, and that is exactly what has driven the LRA to take up arms. I am not advocating the moral high-ground of the LRA; I’m merely suggesting the Ugandan problem needs a Ugandan solution, an indigenous peaceful negotiation to come from within, not the West and not anybody. India should know this so well that it should stand up to the world and shout – Story of my life, man!

There is as good a chance tomorrow for some pasty-white kid with a camera to mobilize the world to ‘Make the CPI (Maoist) Famous’ and get NATO troops deployed in the forests of central India to save the Invisible Tribals. I hope when that day comes, we know better. It is good to study other countries’ atrocities and bring attention to them, but it is our primary duty to look at our own atrocities and rectify them. It is the moral duty of the Americans today to call Invisible Children’s bluff and for the Ugandans to ask hard questions to themselves and their government.

The West’s attitude towards Africa, Middle-East and Western Asia is reflected in the words of John Mill Stuart’s (East India Company official) on India– the barbarians are backward and inferior, and for their own benefit we have to uplift them, civilize them and educate them and so on. At the period of its worst atrocities, Stuart described England’s dominion over India as an angelic power, so magnificent that nobody could understand how wonderful they are. That has always been the moral and intellectual content behind colonization.

If you see the White Messiah on your screen again, switch it off, and do the world a favour before you set off to save it – open a book.

Notes –

  1. NYT Examiner article on mainstream media manufacturing consent on Joseph Konyhttp://www.nytexaminer.com/2012/03/joseph-kony-and-the-new-york-times/
  2. Pete McCormack, director of Uganda Rising(2006), interviews Professor Noam Chomsky on the impact of neo-liberal agenda on Africa http://www.petemccormack.com/social_005.htm
  3. Better Business Bureau’s current rating of Invisible Children – http://www.bbb.org/us/article/kony-2012-video-sends-mixed-message-to-young-activists-33206
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    • Stacy
    • March 27th, 2012

    They call it the white man’s burden btw…

    • Was the Abhu Gharib prison-torture part of the white Man’s burden too?

        • Stacy
        • April 1st, 2012

        Maybe you should google the phrase before asking questions…

      • “Google” tells me that the expression is an exhortation to the West to colonize and “civilize” rest of the world. so are you saying you agree with this world-view?

  1. Brilliantly done, Suraj. I’ve been wondering about this Kony situation but I haven’t gotten down to reading anything credible from an unbiased source. I think the Maoist comparison is beautifully explanatory (for an Indian, at least). I still need to check out the articles you’ve referred to, but what you’ve said makes complete sense.
    It’s time the internet age realised the world isn’t all black and white even if you have visual evidence of it. As a very wise old man from the Film Club of the Philosophy Dept. I once met said something along the lines of ‘the ‘documentary’ form of film-making is the most biased as it presents a narrow focus with a pre-decided stance.’ Which is pretty obvious, when you think of it, but the problem is, we almost never do.

    p.s.- Love the title 🙂

    • Hi Bianca, the italian-chef!
      Thank you for understanding what hundreds of people out there have started saying…i wanted to join in and spread the message too, hence this article…and am glad you appreciate the Indian reference to it too; it always helps to contextualize such complicated matters…

      The most fundamental step one can take to make the world a better place is to begin with oneself first!

      and thanks for noticing the titles,…that’s the only gift of capitalism i appreciate – i love having the freedom to grab eye-balls!

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