When we say “never forget” in reference to 9/11, we should mean it.
This week, a few dozen videos featuring people who say they read the now-deceased 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden’s “Letter to America” went viral on TikTok, the Chinese-owned social media platform.
Bin Laden explained in the 2002 letter, which was recently republished by the Guardian (and has since been taken offline), why he thought he was justified in attacking the United States and killing nearly 3,000 people.
He also advocated for destroying Israel, which is particularly relevant now, given the current war between Israel and Hamas.
In the TikTok videos, the young people responding to the letter act as though it gives them some kind of remarkable “eye-opening” insight. Hey, maybe the U.S. had it coming, and the most notorious terrorist of the 21st century had a point, they say.
“Reading this letter, it becomes apparent to me that the actions of 9/11 and those acts committed against the USA and its people were all just the buildup of our government failing other nations,” one of the TikTok users said.
TikTok eventually removed “#lettertoamerica” from its platform after receiving blowback.
Some people on TikTok have responded to the letter as if it’s insightful or that somehow bin Laden’s 20-plus-year-old message is new information. The letter reads like the impotent ramblings of a frustrated Islamist conqueror, not a glorious freedom fighter.
Bin Laden, of course, plays on the anti-colonization heartstrings of the modern liberal West. But what really angered the Islamist terrorist and his ilk is that the dream of a global caliphate had been stymied for centuries.
After all the evil bin Laden caused, it’s worth noting that a man who dreamed of re-creating the conquests of Muhammad died in his pajamas, hiding behind a woman after cowering for months in a small, hidden bunker in the middle of nowhere in Pakistan.
It was a pathetic end for an evil man.
What’s important here is not just that there are a few fools buying into terrorist propaganda on social media. It’s that there’s a social media platform with a direct connection to communist China pumping out that garbage to young Westerners.
It seems like TikTok understood that the bin Laden apologia went too far and buried it, but it’s worth asking: How did this trend even start? Is TikTok manipulating its platform to ensure that the most toxic content reaches the largest possible audience?
This is a platform that has made other questionable and suspicious decisions. For instance, removing the video of a pro-democracy activist in Chinese-controlled Hong Kong. They said it was removed “in error.”
Yeah, sure it was.
The platform is also currently highly skewed toward supporting the Palestinians and Hamas.
“The spread of popular hashtags on the Chinese-owned platform is overwhelmingly slanted toward pro-Palestinian content in opposition to long-standing U.S. support for Israel,” wrote Tristan Justice at The Federalist. “The hashtag “#standwithisrael” has received 464 million overall views, according to the company’s own public analytics. On the other hand, the hashtag “#standwithpalestine” has received more than 4 billion.”
Recent polls show that young Americans are far more likely to side with the Palestinians than with Israel in the current conflict in Gaza, compared with older generations. Is that why we see these numbers, or do we see these numbers because social media like TikTok are intentionally reinforcing that narrative?
Even beyond the propaganda, the platform certainly deals in the trade of “digital fentanyl” as Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., put it.
Now, that may simply be a demand that TikTok fulfills, but it’s difficult not to question the motives of a social media platform run by an authoritarian geopolitical rival of the United States. They’d like nothing more than to sow chaos and destruction in America without having to fire a shot.
In the end, what we should take away from the viral bin Laden letter trend are two things.
First, we should think carefully about how much access we’ve given TikTok to this country over the years, despite its history of nefarious practices and connection to the Chinese Communist Party.
Second, we really do need to teach and pass on what happened on 9/11. There is now a generation of young Americans reaching adulthood who remember it as merely a historical event and more coming along who barely know it even as that.
We can’t leave education for young Americans to woke teachers and social media platforms. That especially goes for social media platforms controlled by foreign countries that would like to see the United States be paralyzed by social disintegration.
Our culture-making institutions have largely been poisoned by anti-American ideology. Our society now has fewer antibodies to counteract messages like the bin Laden letter. Western elites struggle to justify our civilization’s existence at this point, so it’s not surprising to see Western youths being suckered by bin Laden’s message.
It’s up to those who remember the truth, and what is right and good, to ensure that future generations truly never forget. We can’t let the Islamists or the huckster propagandists of TikTok fill the void.
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