Perspective: In hailing bin Laden, woke TikTok users are siding with evil
After 9/11, Americans knew some people sympathized with the terrorists. We didn’t know they might one day be our own kids
As if on cue, Osama bin Laden has entered the chat like the martyr he always wanted to be. His posthumous ranting is enabled by TikTok, where the shallow musings of Gen Z are received as profundity by their like-minded peers.
The mastermind of 9/11 was long viewed as the personification of evil by those in the West. But suddenly, bin Laden was given the forgiveness and understanding that eluded him for so long, as wide-eyed innocents on TikTok professed a paradigm-altering experience while reading “A Letter to America,” his Unabomber-like manifesto that badly attempts to justify the unjustifiable.
Who are these teary children suffering their existential crises on a social media app? Are they even Americans? Are they paid actors? It’s hard to know, given that there are plenty of countries that stand to benefit when young Americans turn on their own country, as these young people ostensibly have.
In retrospect, the resurrection of bin Laden’s vile ideology was entirely predictable because of his rantings about Israel and Palestine; his statements are not far removed from what is being said now at some protests on college campuses across the nation. The parties involved just needed an introduction, which TikTok gladly provided.
In the process, a mass murderer became the standard-bearer for moral relativism, which has been on the rise for decades and has finally hit its peak in the present bin Laden mania.
In their embrace of bin Laden, the TikTokers seem to have spent decades on the planet without acquiring any knowledge of history, or even a rudimentary sense of right and wrong. In generations past, at least watching TV after school gave children a sense of who the bad guys are. Not these kids. They are open to anyone being the good guy, even the man responsible for the deaths of 3,000 Americans on a single sunny morning.
“Well, you started it,” the madman said, ticking off centuries of grievances as if America, not yet 250 years old, is the source of all the world’s problems since Eden.
And the dim bulbs on TikTok bought it, and nodded their heads vigorously.
“Reading this letter, it becomes apparent to me that the actions of 9/11 ... were all just a build-up of our government failing other nations,” one TikTok user said.
In an even more offensive post, another person acted out cheering when bin Laden’s death was announced, and shaking his head sorrowfully upon “reading his letter to America and knowing he was right.”
Some of our young people are peering at the world with the murky goggles of moral relativism, bereft of the clear-eyed certainty of good and evil that has been a mainstay of ethical and religious thought for millennia.
Megyn Kelly rightly said on X that the TikTokers’ parents “failed to teach wrong from right, a proper moral code, a love of country and perspective on America’s role in the world.”
For now, though, the woke children of TikTok may have accidentally gone too far in siding with evil. The backlash has been swift and harsh.
The Guardian, a U.K. newspaper that published bin Laden’s letter in its entirety in 2002, pulled it down. TikTok said Thursday that it is removing videos that promote bin Laden’s letter. And if the young people in the videos are, in fact, real Americans and not propaganda tools or bots, they will likely be exposed to ridicule or worse, much like the anti-Israel protesters on college campuses have been lately.
But they still have the right to say vile, offensive and, quite frankly, unfathomably dumb things while living in a nation whose values they so blithely deride. Try that in bin Laden territory, in any place where its leaders consider him as a hero.
In the aftermath of 9/11, when America was raw and angry and grieving, we knew that there might be people among us who sided with the terrorists. We never knew that one day, they might be our own kids. For once, it would be a good thing if these TikTokers were bots. If they’re ours, American-born, American-raised, we have a hard reckoning ahead.
Bin Laden’s remains were given to the sea, in part to deny him a burial place that would become a shrine. But evil is not so easily buried and is always looking for someone who will justify it — whether in a letter or a video on social media. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking on how long America will stand for an app that turns our children against their own country, and toward the man who sought to destroy it.