The Lord's Resistance Army is a militant group which has sought to overthrow the Museveni government in Uganda. The LRA has been described as a quasi-Christian group and is one of several militant groups operating in central Africa.* Human rights observers have documented the countless human rights violations perpetrated by the LRA, including massacres of civilians, abductions, rape and forced marriage of women and girls to LRA combatants, and forced conscription of child soldiers. Many internally displaced persons in Uganda were forced to become "night commuters," fleeing their homes or camps at night to escape the depredations of the LRA.
The LRA has inflicted unspeakable atrocities throughout central Africa, so who could possibly defend such thugs? Who indeed.
On the October 14th edition of The Rush Limbaugh Show, Limbaugh framed Obama's measure as an attack on a Christian group that is fighting Muslims. According to a transcript of the show, Limbaugh had this to say. (See
"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 ... 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."Limbaugh later asked a caller "how do you react to the news that Obama has dispatched a hundred soldiers to fight radical Christians in Africa?"
According to Media Matters, some of Limbaugh's fans, perhaps unaware of the LRA's history, expressed outrage that the Obama administration had supposedly sent troops to kill African Christians.
Fortunately, people are challenging Limbaugh's insensitive statements. On October 18th, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) read a statement on the Senate floor in which he clarified that the U.S. was not going to war with the LRA. Sen. Inhofe also provided a brief history of the LRA and its many atrocities, including torture, maiming, and use of child soldiers.
Evelyn Apoko, a survivor of LRA violence, was so disturbed by Limbaugh's words that she recorded a video entitled "Dear Mr. Limbaugh."
"I am a former abducted child. My heart breaks when I hear your message about the LRA. I experienced first-hand the pain and hatred of humanity in the LRA. I know that there is nowhere in the Bible that says Christians should treat humans like animals. I have witnessed the spirit of Joseph Kony and it is not from God. Abducting young people from their homes and forcing them to become something that is not meant to be, working day and night without food or drink, children dying of hunger, with no one to tell them it's going to be okay, brainwashing children and murdering innocent people."
Dear Mr. Limbaugh: Evelyn's Appeal from Strongheart on Vimeo.
The LRA's atrocities are not a secret. The news media has been reporting on them for years, and a quick internet search on the LRA will pull up ample information. Rush Limbaugh had no excuse for failing to do research the LRA before speaking on his show. I sincerely hope this incident was rooted in ignorance, rather than an effort to stir controversy.
Limbaugh's comments were out of line. He owes the LRA's victims an apology.
(UPDATE: Truth Wins Out's commentary on military intervention in Uganda is well-worth the read.)
For additional commentary, visit the following links.
Human Rights Watch: Dear Obama: A Message from Victims of the LRA
Media Matters: Limbaugh's Latest Smear: Obama Is "Target[ing] Christians" In Uganda
The Atlantic: Why Speak Up When Rush Limbaugh Lies?
* The civil strife in central Africa has a long and complicated history, which I will not delve into here. For more information on armed conflict and militant groups in the region, I recommend the book Dancing in the Glory of Monsters: The Collapse of the Congo and the Great War of Africa by Jason Stearns.