Team Wronging Rights, Beyond the Internet

Kate and I have both appeared in non-blog media over the last few days, discussing why we are Kony 2012 skeptics.  In case you’re interested:

  • On March 8, Amanda appeared on Monocle Radio’s The Daily (Link here, and the interview starts about an hour in)
  • On March 10, we contributed to a New York Times “Room for Debate” discussion.  Excerpt:

    “A focus on awareness also requires putting “relatable” figures center-stage. That means “whites in shining armor,” while portraying the communities affected by atrocities as helpless victims, waiting passively for American assistance. That may be good for page views, but it is bad for policy. Those communities will bear the consequences — good or bad — of interventions to end atrocities. Shouldn’t awareness be about listening to them, not drowning out their voices?”

  • Today, Kate appeared on Philadelphia Public Radio’s Radio Times show, and discussed the Kony 2012 campaign with Sarah Margon of the Center for American Progress.  The podcast is available here.

Amanda Taub

28 Comments

  1. “Kate appeared on Philadelphia Public Radio’s Radio Times show, and discussed the Kony 2012 campaign with Sarah Margon of the Center for American Progress.”

    Two people from the same side of the issue. How enlightening.

    A major complaint from both was the simplification of the issue. It’s a common cry whenever anything has a more grass-roots origin, yet time and again the big players get away with it without being picked up on it. (“We must rid Iraq of WMDs!”)

    Are you as critical of those in government that you aspire to work with as you are of this nice, soft, left-wing target with no possible blow-back to you? If not, you’re engaging in self-interested intellectual snobbery. On behalf of my 13 year old daughter and a lot of her friends, many of whom are exploring their social conscience for the first time as a result of this campaign, put a sock in it.

    Marcus

    • Your response is confused. On the one hand you recognise the need to be critical of popular ideas with no truth (“we must get rid of WMD”) and then turn around and say that the criticism of IC is self-interested. (And, I cannot speak for the writers of this blog, but given that they are vocal in this issue, I would expect that yes, in other issues they are as well).

      Secondly, the poster below makes a viable argument, but your belief that any advoacy (badvocacy) should continue with no discussion or critique of their aims, and use of funding is wrong. As a parent – of 4 kids – and as someone that works in this field, I am appalled at your self-interest to do with your child. Yes, of course as parents we put our children first and want them to follow their passions. But, at the same time it is our job as parents to encourage real dialouge and to Discourage following something without any interest in alternate viewpoints. And actually, no, it is not your child’s right, nor her friends, to be able to follow something blindly, simply because it is their first foray into world issues. There are many issues – that have been going on for many years (campaigns for democracy in Burma come to mind) that your daughter could “cut her teeth” on. Any group/Ngo or issue of value – if it is of substance – Should be able to stand up to vigorous discussion and criticism. And any Ngo that believes in what they are doing and can back it up would agree with this. That you believe in the IC campaign and want your daughter to be an engaged citizen of the world – should in fact mean that you encourage dialouge and discussion, even if it disagrees with your inital views.

      I find this whole Kony debate interesting – beyond the issue to do with kony/LRA (which is not new news) as it illustrates the problems with critical/intellectual discourse in the US. Yes, there are arenas for this in the US of course – academia, think tanks, NGOs, certain news outlets etc – but the american public in general seems to want, if not expect , issues to be presented to them in a very black/white simplistic way. In the uk the public dialouge is much more nuanced, and it would appear open to real dialouge. The kony debate seems to me to be symptomatic of the way in which dialouge (e.g. as evidenced in US Poltical debates) is played out.

      Like anything – feedback, critque, discussion and real open dialouge (not just personal insults as evidenced in much of the responses to these threads) will make a good campaign better and benefit all players.

      • I didn’t say that any criticism of IC is self-interested – I posed a very specific scenario. Listening to the introduction of Kate on the radio program, it’s hard not to think that she doesn’t have to be very careful about her political stance, as a blunder could have a considerable impact on her future. No such risk exists with criticising IC, so it’s fair to suggest that if that’s a factor in her stance, it’s disingenuous.

        Regarding my daughter, you couldn’t have it more wrong. Although I also believe in what IC has achieved, it was my daughter who made me aware of it – she was the first one to post the link to me. She watched the video and cried, then immediately posted it on Facebook. I’m not leading her into anything, I’m supporting her desire for a better world.

        She’s thirteen and like most kids her age, doesn’t have the capacity or experience to fully understand this issue, but that doesn’t invalidate her opinion that war crimes involving children are unacceptable. (Surely you’re not disputing those facts?) She’s not blindly following anything – she distilled the film into a more straightforward concept and put her stake in the ground. It’s much the same process that she used a couple of years ago when she decided to become vegetarian against both her parents wishes. I don’t care whether she has all the facts about Kony or vegetarianism – I care that she feels that she has the capacity and strength to believe in something and try to make a difference.

        So you have four kids? What did they feel when they saw the film? If any are around my daughter’s age, I’d be surprised if they didn’t feel much the same way that she did. How did you react to that? Did you allow them to run with their feelings, or did you immediately debunk it for them? Did you “encourage dialogue and discussion, even if it disagrees with your initial views”? You asked the question of me and I answered, so did you handle it as well?

        I find it puzzling that you cast this in terms of the US. I’m in Australia and I don’t doubt for a moment that every corner of the globe is just as involved in this issue as the US.

        Finally, read @nuaka in this blog posting and others in Righting Wrongs. They are far more articulate than my efforts and are the best postings that I’ve read on this whole issue. If you’re reading this @nuaka, your postings are fantastic – please keep it up.

        • I disagree – at 13, she can take on a more complex arguement. And, if she is interested in world issues then she needs to be able to learn all sides of an issue. And, quite frankly, it is surprising that you heard about the LRA from this campaign/your daughter – the LRA have been around for many years, with many of the atrocities concerning child soldiers (I work with issues to do with child rights).

          The fact that you blithly ignore any critcisms of IC by any other voice (often those with more experience) is what is disengenous.

          I’m not fully british – I’m half north american, but yes, dialouge about issues in the UK is far above the US – in terms of the general population.

          Also, perhaps you might be interested in this:

          http://visiblechildren.tumblr.com/

          • note:

            I meant to say “with many of the atrocities concerning child soldiers and the children that used to travel at night to sleep in certain towns – happened some years ago (I work with issues to do with child rights).

          • Without the experience to understand that the press often does the bidding of the political leaders and that governments and corporations spend massive resources on spin, I don’t see why it’s critical that she understand that those tactics may have been employed by IC. She will become better equipped as she gets older, as did we all. For now, yes, her opinions may appear simplistic, but at least they’re hers.

            I didn’t say that I first heard of the LRA from my daughter, I said that I first heard of the video from her. Your efforts to paint me as being ill-informed are disappointing.

            What did I blithely ignore? If I wasn’t interested in exploring this, what do you suppose I’m doing here?

            Finally, you didn’t answer the questions as to how you dealt with the video with your own kids. I can only surmise that the omission speaks for itself.

          • Okay, I watched the video. So what’s the message? We shouldn’t care because it’s none of our business? Hasn’t that been working a treat for the last 26 years? Again, I urge you to read @nuaka.

        • Re my kids? They are too young – they are 6 and under. However, as an academic (PhD) in this field – and with about 500 books on my home library to do with development – including many specifically about child rights, soldiers and refugess – then yes, I would expect a rounded discussion. Where we differ, of course, is as this is my field of work my children are immersed in these issues already (age appropriate of course) – and by time they are 12 I would think, given their surroundings they would be more critical of NGOs that lack substance. But should they find out about a campaign that had very real flaws, then yes, I would talk about it with them, and head them in the right direction – and I would encourage advocay (the reason I work in this field is because I give a damn) and passion and protesting if it was required. But above all, I would encourage knowledge and understanding to trump simplistic PR campaigns. And I already teach my oldest this. But then I guess that is where we differ.

          • Finally – and I apologise for the many posts – you say “What did I blithely ignore? If I wasn’t interested in exploring this, what do you suppose I’m doing here”..

            The thing is Everyone on these boards have an interest in this, and some have considerable backgrounds in it – that’s why everyone is so passionate and often angry. But, and I will say it again – why not read the many criticism by people that work in this field. Everyone agrees that kony is a terrible person and has done horrific things, everyone agrees that he Should – as with the many other leaders/faction committing atrocities (including in Syria at the moment) be brought to trial/justice. No one is saying that issues to do with human right’s, children and rehabilitiation among other things are not important. Obviously, it should go without saying that they are. But then why not place your passion in a NGO that has real substance and respect? Or that is actually working with these issues. The $30 for an action pack was a slick campaign but was it of value? Could people – like in any campaign worlwide not make posters themselves? Occupy wallstreet seems to have done quite well without an “action pack” being required. In any case, even IF IC were the most brilliant, wonderful, perfect organisation on the planet – if they have this many followers, then they have enough…many other worthwhile orgs in Uganda and elsewhere in the world do not.

            I have posted enough – so I won’t respond again. We will have to just agree to disagree, but thanks for the discussion at any rate.

          • I really liked this post of yours – I think it addresses several important issues.

            “But then why not place your passion in a NGO that has real substance and respect?”

            Now that I have a better understanding about this issue, I may consider supporting another NGO, though questions are routinely raised against the way many if not most operate. One that I have supported is http://www.schoolofstjude.org, partly because a personal connection lead me to explore what they do and how they operate. It’s not that easy for the average punter to find an NGO that ticks all of the boxes.

            IC succeeded because it found a way to get onto my screen and engage me for half an hour, whereas no other NGO has managed to do so. So what did that accomplish? For starters, I’ve been watching the Thomas Lubanga verdict with interest and was pleased to see that he was found guilty. My interest is now wider than the Kony campaign, but for some reason critics decry increased awareness as being a waste of time – for the life of me, I don’t understand that position. I feel as though the message is that “you’re not entitled to be interested because your level of participation is too low”. What good can come from driving me away from becoming more aware and concerned?

            “Occupy wallstreet seems to have done quite well without an “action pack” being required.”

            That’s because the opportunity existed for direct action in many major cities all over the world. The “action pack” was the participants themselves – they were a bus ride away from meaningful participation. For Kony, the cost and logistics make direct action impossible, so some intermediary approach is necessary. Surely any other NGO would operate in the same fashion, asking for a donation rather than my direct participation?

            “In any case, even IF IC were the most brilliant, wonderful, perfect organisation on the planet – if they have this many followers, then they have enough…many other worthwhile orgs in Uganda and elsewhere in the world do not.”

            You seem to assume that support for IC is coming predominately from people who would otherwise be supporting another NGO, but that’s not the case, as evidenced by my daughter and her friends. Much of the support is surely from people who wouldn’t otherwise support any NGO – surely a worldwide increase of money going to NGOs is a good thing? Are you affiliated with another NGO? If so, saying that IC has enough followers comes across as sour grapes. What is the magic number of followers that IC is entitled to and how did you arrive at it?

          • As impressive as your PhD and large library surely are, with all due respect, you don’t seem to have much grasp of teenagers finding their feet.

            Children’s rights are a very different thing from children’s opinions. I’m sure your PhD helps with the former, but until your kids get older, the latter may remain elusive, as it did for me. I learn from my daughter – if that appals you, then so be it. Our opinions differ.

  2. Regarding the point about listening to local voices – an international aid assessment team traveled to LRA affected areas in Haut and Bas Uele, DRC in late 2010 for that purpose. UN humanitarian agencies and relief NGOs have very limited access to most of those communities because of the lack of passable roads and MONUSCO security presence – they are isolated from each other and from the outside world – but have also made recent visits. Based on those consultations, to say that the people in those areas would welcome international assistance to get rid of the LRA would be an understatement. In this context, it’s not clear how the comment “shouldn’t awareness be about listening to them, not drowning out their voices” is accurate. The communities which are suffering from LRA attacks, it’s safe to say, are very happy that the world is paying attention, and that their voices are being heard. It takes some fancy intellectual footwork to interpret massive international attention to the LRA problem as “drowning out (local people’s) voices”.

    Recent articles in the Financial Times document that the video campaign is already having an impact – anyone interested should go to ft.com and read the recent articles by Matthew Green, one of the most knowledgeable people in the world on the LRA (who isn’t actually in the LRA, that is). I am critical of the IC’s idea to expand mobile phone access to LRA areas for practical reasons (lack of private sector interest, cost, vulnerability of phone towers to attack, etc.) but I do have to agree that their work to encourage LRA defections is positive. Human Rights Watch and Pulitzer Center experts on the LRA also agree that people suffering from LRA atrocities need help, and that it will take international commitment to stop Kony. And Jon Stewart’s “Daily Show” interpretation of the critics also seems to be spot-on, noting that the critics “picked on a few aspects of the campaign, but [seem] most peeved that nobody paid attention to their own coverage of the story”. It’s hard not to see the post-colonial “whites in shining armor” criticism as cover for anger at being left out of the conversation.

    Rather than stand back and throw eggs at the campaign, it would seem to be a more productive approach to realize that some number of those tens of millions of viewers of the video are going to want to become more informed and more engaged, and an informed development-oriented viewpoint can help. The criticism I have seen here doesn’t seem to be of that constructive sort, recognizing that new attention to the LRA is a good thing if it contributes to informed international engagement on a problem that doesn’t have a local solution. I would be very happy to see critics taking a more constructive stance in that respect, leveraging the probably short-term wave of interest in the LRA into a new cadre of better-informed and concerned people (not all of whom are white).

    • You make a good argument, but the problem is that this comes back to the original criticisms with regard to IC and their overall engagment (as well as issues to do with their funds and their financial and vocal support of the military in Uganda and Sudan). You say that: “it would seem to be a more productive approach to realize that some number of those tens of millions of viewers of the video are going to want to become more informed and more engaged, and an informed development-oriented viewpoint can help”. However, the key issues here is that informed discussion, and community iniatives with regard to the LRA/.child soldiers and post-conflict recovery are not new to the development community. Although, apparently they are new to people watching the IC video. Secondly, IC is is not a new organistion to those in development – criticisms of this org have been around for a few years now.

      The point that the writers of this blog – and many others are making is that for anything of value to take place then a full understanding of the complexity of the situation is required. Indeed, it is only because of the criticisms that IC have had to clarify their position (although they have not done so with regard to their support of the military). People that work in development, post-conflict, child rights, and related issues to do with governance, poverty and livelihoods already are having informed discussions – and have done so for many years. The problem here is that anyone not familiar with these issues and discovering them via the IC campaign will not listen to any other voices or critcisms. Ironically, this lack of awareness or ability to enagage in dialouge about the issue in all its complexity is the very reason so many people are unaware of issues in the world around them to begin with – and are only finding out about the LRA and joseph Kony now. You might want to have a look at the links above as well as the video. If you are interested in issues to do with children, and specifially with regard to Uganda, you might want to educate yourself about “nodding disease”

      • “The problem here is that anyone not familiar with these issues and discovering them via the IC campaign will not listen to any other voices or critcisms.”

        Seriously? Out of 100 million views, not one person is willing to educate themselves further? This is exactly the sentiment that leads people to feel that the critics are engaged in intellectual snobbery. You must be kidding – please tell me that’s not what you meant…

        • I said I wasn’t going to reply but I need to. No, it is not the detrators – who work in thise field – who need to educate themselves further. Apparently, however, it is the 10 million people who watched this video. But, don’t take my word for it – take the word of those, who work in this area – in the links I provided or the voices of actual Ugandans.

          And the amount of people that – blindly or not – follow something has no correlation to the value of what they are following. The nazis had a lot of supporters, as did the hutus during the genocide in Rwanda, as did the idea – hundreds of years ago – that the earth was flat. Or, in saudi arabia – where I grew up – that women are second class citizens and should not be given any rights. Or that cigarettes pose no danger to ones health, or that thalidomide would be a good thing for pregannt women to take, or that too much sun can’t cause cancer, or that people that are non-white are inferior, or that the earth revolves around the sun, or that disease is borne by ill-will and the evil eye. Shall I continue? All of these ideas, and hundreds more were considered correct at one time (a few still are – even though they are not).

          The only thing, as humans we have to best be able to move forward is critical thinking, knowledge and rounded discussion. And I take my hat to those that are intelligent enough to move out of the herd and try and instill some common sense and truth. Clearly you are happy to be a sheep, and there is seemingly no amount of evidence that will veer you from your course.

          • 100 million views actually, not 10 million people. Perhaps you’re suggesting that each person watched it 10 times?

            “And the amount of people that – blindly or not – follow something has no correlation to the value of what they are following. The nazis had a lot of supporters, as did the hutus during the genocide in Rwanda…”

            As did Martin Luther King and the Dalai Lama and Lech Wałęsa. That’s a pitiful tactic, not worthy of decent discussion.

            The earth actually does rotate around the sun. Galileo established that in the early 1600s, though the academic community refused to accept it, as did the church. It was much the same story when Darwin posited evolution, yet over time, academia found it necessary to… shall we say, “adjust to the changing environment”.

            I feel that I’m exploring this issue in a much more open way than you are. I consider perspectives like my daughter’s reaction, the impact and sustainability of a social media campaign and the impact of ground swell on governments, whereas it seems to me that you’re just defending your domain. I don’t see you looking outward at all – to me, you seem to be behaving much the way Galileo and Darwin’s detractors did, dismissing nonconforming opinions by telling the masses that it’s too complex for us to understand. I’m not deriding you, I’m genuinely asking whether you can understand why I and others might feel that way.

            “The only thing, as humans we have to best be able to move forward is critical thinking, knowledge and rounded discussion.”

            You immediately follow that by calling anyone who doesn’t share your opinion a herd animal and a sheep. The more you take that approach, the more convinced I become that far from having the answers, you’re part of the problem.

  3. Ira Sawyer of Human Rights Watch makes an important point on the Congo Siasa blog:

    “For both detractors and supporters of Kony2012, it is important for the debate to move on to the issues that really matter to the hundreds of thousands of people in central Africa who still live in fear of the next LRA attack: What will it take to capture Kony and end the LRA threat to civilians? Today’s urgent task is to use Kony’s new international notoriety to move policymakers to take the necessary measures.”

    http://congosiasa.blogspot.com/2012/03/guest-post-from-campaigning-to-action.html

    • Yes, I know human rights watch well. And Ida (not ira) sawyer is a white student researcher with an opinion. She is not a human right lawyer (that funnily enough, the writers of this blog are). And yes, it is important for the debate to move on – but the next LRA attack, given they do not operate in Uganda any more and have not done so for some years is not the most pressing problem. Post-conflict recovery, land mine removal, greater accountability with regard to governance, economic recovery and support and more research into Nodding Disease that is devastaing whole communities.

      • I think that the debate is taking two different tracks here, or perhaps has for some time. I’m taken aback by the comment that “the next LRA attack, given that they do not operate in Uganda any more… is not the most pressing problem.” I had understood that stopping the next LRA attack was the whole purpose of the video campaign, and from that point of view I think that it might end up being helpful. If you live in the area where the LRA operate now, I am pretty sure the next attack is of immediate concern. The video does specifically mention and include a graphic showing that the LRA have left Uganda, so it’s a little disingenuous for people to pretend like the video portrays it as the current location of the LRA.

        The IC video, and groups focused on the LRA situation such as the Pulitzer Center, HRW, Int’l Criminal Court, etc. are very much concerned about the next LRA attack. That’s why they feel that all this sudden attention to the LRA might just end up leading for more international commitment to stop the atrocities. I see the video as a pretty savvy use of social media to rally people around that point. On the other hand, academics are most concerned about post-colonial racial politics and savior complexes and such, which is more applicable to recovery in Northern Uganda than on military cooperation to stop the LRA. So, with an appeal to keep the discussion on a civil level and refrain from ad hominem attacks, I posit that there are really two different interest groups here, one focused on stopping the LRA, the other on engaging academically on strategies for inclusive local development in post-conflict Northern Uganda.

  4. To all supporters of IC you should watch this:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/14/kony-2012-uganda_n_1346114.html?ir=Canada&ref=topbar

    ‘Kony 2012’ Prompts Outrage In Uganda, Future Screenings Canceled (VIDEO)

    See video in link above

    Everyone from actors to models to business leaders have weighed in on “Kony 2012,” the 30-minute video about Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army that went viral last week.

    However, little has been heard about what the Ugandans who were affected by Kony and the LRA think of the video.

    Al Jazeera’s Malcom Webb went to a public screening of the video in Lira in Northern Uganda, which, according to him, is “the area worst affected by Joseph Kony’s Rebel Lord’s Resistance Army.”

    Webb reported that the attendees didn’t even get to see the whole film because people became so angry and frustrated with the depiction that they began throwing rocks.

    “The event ended with the angrier members of the audience throwing rocks and shouting abusive criticism, as the rest fled for safety, leaving an abandoned projector, with organisers and the press running for cover until the dust settled,” Webb reports for Al Jazeera.

    Victor Ochen, the director of The African Youth Initiative Network (AYINET), the group that organized the screening, said in a statement that it drew more than 35,000 people and was broadcast on five radio stations.

    Due to the response, future AYINET public screenings of “Kony 2012” in Lira reportedly have been canceled.

    “[T]he film produced such outrage, anger and hurt that AYINET has decided that in order not to further harm victims or provoke any violent response that it is better to halt any further screenings for now,” Ochan said in the statement.

    “Towards the end of the film, the mood turned more to anger at what many people saw as a foreign, inaccurate account that belittled and commercialised their suffering, as the film promotes Kony bracelets and other fundraising merchandise, with the aim of making Kony infamous.

    One woman I spoke to made the comparison of selling Osama Bin Laden paraphernalia post 9/11 – likely to be highly offensive to many Americans, however well intentioned the campaign behind it.”

    “Critics argue that the film relies on footage nearly ten-years-old of children fleeing the LRA in northern Uganda, implying the situation remains the same to this day, and so failing to represent the real issues now facing post-conflict Northern Uganda.

    The LRA now operates in the Central African Rrepublic, Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan, and is now thought to number no more than 300 fighters.”

  5. Or finally, this one:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LvOTFJMTCQ8

    Obviously, the propoganda that Kony mentions about his role in atrocities is a lie – and the role that the LRA played in terrorizing in the name of some confused idea of freedom and christianity is undeniable. And, as the writers of this blog have tried to point out (to no avail it would appear) this has been known for many years. Most people that are engaged do not need a PR campaign to find out about what’s going on in the world.

    But – here is a UK journalist that was able to find and interview him. Funny that – esp given the whole Kony campaign rests on this idea that he is not able to be located. And, esp funny that the Obama administration – months before the IC decided to get raise their profile by this slick campaign – are already looking for him. And yes, the journalist points out that he may disapear again – but I am quite sure, esp given his connection to uganda and his desire to be known that he is able to be found.

    • You’re trying to have it both ways. If he can be found, his 26 year reign must reflect a lack of political will to stop him, right?

    • @sg – fact check: it’s totally wrong to suggest that Kony is now in a known location where anyone who wanted to could find him, including journalists. Nobody, not even this blog’s authors, would support that claim. The fact that 100 U.S. military advisors, cooperating with the Ugandan army, can’t find him should be sufficient evidence in that regard.

      Kony came out of the bush some years back in a tentative/sham negotiation process (not the first time), which gave a few journalists a chance to see him. He then pulled out of the negotiations and re-armed/disappeared back into the bush.

  6. Given the public (ego) meltdown of Mr Jason Russell (how many people go through terrible stresses or tragedies in life? Ironically, that would include many of the children in Uganda that lived during the height of the LRA 6+ years ago. On the other hand, How many people end up naked, swearing and making offensive gestures in a public space? Hmm, not many. Oh yes! Mr “look at me” Russell!) and the information that he is an evangelical christian, that he gets funding from anti-gay groups and started Invisible children as a way to “have fun” (video posted at the Atlantic) – it seems almost pathetic that anyone might still blindy support Invisible Children. And, perhaps, (here’s hoping!) some of the posters on these threads have learnt a little humility from it. But if not, and assuming, somehow you missed this – here is the definitive word from the Ugandan PM on the “slick” campaign. The last line where he urges people not to listen to IC and the wrong impression that have given of Uganda is particularly noteable.

    Or, perhaps just “we told you so”.

    Apologies to the writers of this blog seem in order.

    Btw – If anyone cares about world issues – Syria is having a rough time. Not on twitter I know, so not as cool, but much more relevant with regard to actual conflict at this time/displacement/children being hurt and killed.

    • Sorry, after 100 million views of his video and worldwide press, are you seriously attributing his meltdown to a need for attention? The simplest answer is usually the right one and it seems much more likely that something that he worked hard on for a number of years and at first seemed massively successful was torn down in front of him, largely by people like you, trying to make political hay by ignoring the message and picking apart the method. (You never did declare whether you have an interest in another NGO, so I assume that you do.)

      The man has a wife and child. The pleasure you seem to take in his troubles makes you look cold-hearted and petty. Having had people close to me melt down and seeing how devastating it is and how long it takes to recover from, I find your comments inexcusable. As a parent, you should be ashamed of yourself.

      You told us so? You’re using someone’s misfortune as an opportunity to run with that line? Wow…

      As for Syria, the insurgency is largely being funded and otherwise supported by the US and the UN, so they carry a considerable amount of the blame for the pain the civilians are suffering. So what’s your position? Lobby your government to allow them to sort it out themselves by eliminating foreign involvement, or impose “regime change”. Hasn’t engineering the overthrow of foreign governments worked so well elsewhere? The insurgents are always so reasonable and well-behaved once they get the reins, aren’t they?

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