The last question is one that has struck a nerve in popular debate lately, particularly among liberals. In a widely shared article for the Atlantic, novelist Teju Cole decried the “White Savior Industrial Complex” that he said “exists simply to satisfy the needs — including, importantly, the sentimental needs — of white people and Oprah.”
“If Americans want to care about Africa, maybe they should consider evaluating American foreign policy, which they already play a direct role in through elections, before they impose themselves on Africa itself,” Cole wrote. He added later: “If we are going to interfere in the lives of others, a little due diligence is a minimum requirement.”
Invisible Children’s “Kony 2012,” which called for the U.S. to help arm Ugandan forces to “stop Joseph Kony,” was met with confusion and even anger in Uganda, which Kony fled six years ago. (Invisible Children released a second video Thursday largely defending the previous video.) And Mortenson’s Central Asia Institute has been accused of claiming to build schools that either weren’t needed — half of the 30 schools visited by "60 Minutes" were empty — or don’t exist.
“So how many schools has CAI [Central Asia Institute] actually built in Pakistan and Afghanistan?” Krakauer wrote last September. “Nobody knows. Not even Mortenson knows, because over the past eight or nine years he’s repeatedly thwarted efforts by his Montana-based staff to track how many schools have been built, how much each school really costs, and how many schools are functional.”