Joseph Kony, head of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), a militia group in Uganda responsible for mass killings and mutilations in that country (often forcing children to perform their atrocities), is the subject of a new film intended to promote efforts to bring him to justice for crimes against humanity.
In October 2011, Joseph Kony had an unusual backer in the U.S. media: Rush Limbaugh.
At that time, President Obama announced that he had “authorized a small number of combat equipped U.S. forces to deploy to central Africa to provide assistance to regional forces that are working toward the removal of Joseph Kony from the battlefield.”
While conservatives like Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) supported the Obama administration's effort, Limbaugh saw the announcement as an opportunity to bash the President.
Limbaugh told his audience that Obama was sending “a hundred troops to wipe out Christians” in Uganda, and that he was “help[ing] the Egyptians wipe out the Christians.”
On RushLimbaugh.com the headline was “Obama Invades Uganda, Targets Christians.”
Here's what Limbaugh said (transcript and audio of the segment are still available on his website, no corrections or retractions included):
LIMBAUGH: Have you ever heard of Lord's Resistance Army, Dawn? How about you, Brian? Snerdley, have you? You never heard of Lord's Resistance Army? Well, proves my contention, most Americans have never heard of it, and here we are at war with them. Lord's Resistance Army are Christians. It means God. I was only kidding. Lord's Resistance Army are Christians. They are fighting the Muslims in Sudan. And Obama has sent troops, United States troops to remove them from the battlefield, which means kill them. That's what the lingo means, “to help regional forces remove from the battlefield,” meaning capture or kill.
So that's a new war, a hundred troops to wipe out Christians in Sudan, Uganda, and -- (interruption) no, I'm not kidding. Jacob Tapper just reported it. Now, are we gonna help the Egyptians wipe out the Christians? Wouldn't you say that we are? I mean the Coptic Christians are being wiped out, but it wasn't just Obama that supported that. It was our -- the conservative intelligentsia thought it was an outbreak of democracy. Now they've done a 180 on that, but they forgot that they supported it in the first place. Now they're criticizing it.
Lord's Resistance Army objectives. I have them here. “To remove dictatorship and stop the oppression of our people.” Now, again Lord's Resistance Army is who Obama sent troops to help nations wipe out. The objectives of the Lord's Resistance Army, what they're trying to accomplish with their military action in these countries is the following: “To remove dictatorship and stop the oppression of our people; to fight for the immediate restoration of competitive multiparty democracy in Uganda; to see an end to gross violation of human rights and dignity of Ugandans; to ensure the restoration of peace and security in Uganda, to ensure unity, sovereignty, and economic prosperity beneficial to all Ugandans, and to bring to an end the repressive policy of deliberate marginalization of groups of people who may not agree with the LRA ideology.” Those are the objectives of the group that we are fighting, or who are being fought and we are joining in the effort to remove them from the battlefield.
Later in that same show Limbaugh said, “Is that right? The Lord's Resistance Army is being accused of really bad stuff? Child kidnapping, torture, murder, that kind of stuff? Well, we just found out about this today. We're gonna do, of course, our due diligence research on it.”
Soon after Limbaugh's rant, his listeners were echoing his fraudulent story, some of them contacting members of Congress in order to protest a supposed “attack on Christians” by the Obama administration.
Christianity Today reported that the LRA's doctrines have little to do with actual Christianity. They noted that "[Kony] uses passages from the Pentateuch to justify mutilation and murder."
The warrant for Kony's arrest from the International Criminal Court specifically documents that “the LRA has engaged in a cycle of violence and established a pattern of 'brutalization of civilians' by acts including murder, abduction, sexual enslavement, mutilation, as well as mass burnings of houses and looting of camp settlements; that abducted civilians, including children, are said to have been forcibly 'recruited' as fighters, porters and sex slaves to serve the LRA and to contribute to attacks against the Ugandan army and civilian communities.”
A survivor of the LRA's atrocities, Evelyn Apoko, recorded a video response to Limbaugh. She explained: “My heart breaks” hearing Limbaugh's fraudulent message on the LRA, adding that “I have witnessed the spirit of Joseph Kony and it is not from God.”
Sen. Inhofe directly criticized Limbaugh's offensive support of the LRA on the Senate floor, noting that “some people have mistakenly said this guy Kony is a Christian, and I want to make sure everyone knows he officially was disavowed by the Catholic Church in Uganda” and reading portions of Limbaugh's statements. Inhofe also stated, “I do not very often stand behind this President, but I do in this case because we passed it without a dissenting vote.”
Limbaugh's reaction to Sen. Inhofe? He acknowledged he had been “misinformed” about the LRA, then laughed it off. For Limbaugh, accidentally backing a mass murderer is apparently just another day at the office.