A Letter to My Sons And Their College Classmates on Osama Bin Laden’s ‘Letter to America’
Or Why My Sons Won't Buy TikTok's Bin Laden Worship
To my sons (and their fellow college students):
By now you’ll have seen Osama Bin Laden’s 2002 “Letter to America” being promoted on TikTok. I don’t use that platform, so I learned of it from news stories. This morning I watched some TikTokers’ responses. Then I re-read OBL’s dispatch. Allow me to share my reactions to both.
The clips I saw were the ones posted on X by Yashar Ali on November 15, 7:08 PM. A blonde woman led off, saying she was “ashamed” she’d never known of or read UBL’s letter before now. It left her “disillusioned,” feeling the same way she did when “deconstructing Christianity.” Like all the other TikTokers, she recommended everyone read it.
Next up was a black woman who said UBL’s words caused her an “existential crisis.” And that after reading it she “would never look at life the same way again.” Her entire worldview “changed in the last 20 minutes.”
Another black woman followed, expressing much the same sentiments. Then a wild-haired white man raged against “settler colonialism.” And how anyone resisting it was deemed a terrorist. The next TikTokker was another black woman. She dropped numerous f-bombs, then ended with blaming the mass murders of 9/11 on “our nation” having “failed other nations.” And said that UBL showed her how “deeply propaganda is embedded in our DNA.”
Another black woman simply recommended, between deep sighs, that everyone “go read it.” A pensive white woman was then shown, with the label “mood since reading Osama’s ‘Letter to America:’ rethinking things I grew up learning.” A black man then declaimed, simply, “I read Osama bin Laden’s letter to America.”
Then a Muslim woman appeared. “The way this letter is going viral right now is giving me the greatest sense of relief.” Also, “if you’re Muslim and you’ve lived in the US since 9/11, you know more truth than the typical citizen.” The last clip was of another white woman, under the heading “you just read Bin Laden’s letter to America and notice the media is trying to bury it.”
Why Race Matters Here
Why did I note the races of these OBL enthusiasts? Remember, one of you asked me recently why college professors obsess about race. I told you that it’s because so many of them are so far left. And such Marxists have replaced class struggle with race conflict. Which they have turned into a global issue, not just an American one.
And the biggest component of that is their “Red-Green Alliance,” Marxists allying with Muslims, both here (mainly in universities) and abroad. Although the former would be promptly dispatched, legally and probably literally, if the latter took power. So the professors pretend that isn’t true. And their students never learn any different. But trotting out a diverse cast of sympathetic TikTokers is part of the “progressive” plan in this regard. Differing skin hues cover over a multitude of Marxist-Muslim cognitive dissonance.
So are these al-Qaeda admirers on to something? Has the West really been ignoring OBL’s pearls of wisdom for two decades? Let’s take a look.
Leading, and Closing, With the Quran
First, note that OBL opens and closes with Quranic passages. Five of them mandate fighting against “disbelievers.” The other three predict the victory of Islam over all other religions, via “martyrdom.” Which actually means dying to kill others, not the Christian idea of accepting death in the name of Christ. I wonder why TikToker #1 can’t deconstruct Islam, as she says she did Christianity. OBL then gives his version of why “we are fighting and opposing you.” Followed by “what do we want from you?”
Muslims Are the New Jews?
According to him, Palestine was given to the Jews by Britain. And “the creation of Israel is a crime which must be erased.” The Jews’ “historical right to Palestine” is based on “fabricated lies.” (Even though the Israelites were there by the late second millennium B.C.) In fact, Muslims as “the inheritors of Moses” and of “the real Torah” have the right to Palestine — especially since they conquered it from the Romans (the Byzantine Empire, that is). Might thus makes right, in this view. Not very progressive, is it, TikTokers?
Muslims as Global Victims
OBL then lists the places where, 21 years ago, Muslims were being “attacked.” Somalia, Chechnya, Kashmir, Lebanon. I doubt TikTokers could find any of those places on a map. Nor Israel. Much less the Gaza Strip. I’ve taught college world history, Middle East history, and geography. Most of my students knew nothing of Middle East geography or history before taking my classes.
How much less would students know if they were stuck with professors who sacrifice actual regional knowledge on the process altar of “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion?” Both of you, my sons, have been inoculated against the DEI virus, by your mother and me. But not everyone has.
About Islamic Law…
“The governments of our countries which act as your agents … prevent our people from establishing the Islamic Shariah.” One major aspect of “the Islamic Sharia” is the death penalty for homosexuality. Thirteen Islamic countries currently mandate death for being gay or lesbian. Maybe that “settler colonialism” isn’t as bad as what Hamas wants — which is to kill all Israelis, gay or straight. And to kill any Palestinian homosexuals. (The Conquistadors practiced “settler colonialism,” which did stop the Aztecs’ mass human sacrifice.)
Shariah also has other appalling aspects. Corporal punishment (whipping, amputation) for theft. Stoning for adultery. Death penalty for “leaving Islam.” And large majorities in many Muslim countries support these laws. I doubt history or religion professors at either of your universities even mention any of that.
America Actually Helps the Muslim World
OBL claims that the U.S. does nothing but oppress Muslim countries. Really?
Since WWII America has sent close to $400 billion in aid to MENA (Middle East & North Africa) countries. That doesn’t include the $2.2 TRILLION expended in Afghanistan to free it from the Taliban and build infrastructure. (Fruitlessly, as it turned out.) Seven of America’s top foreign aid recipients in 2022 were Muslim countries (including Nigeria, its northern half being almost all Muslim). In his calls for Allah-sanctioned revenge, UBL leaves out these inconvenient truths. Which of course get skipped over in college victimology, er, history classes.
Convert … or Die
Al-Qaeda’s founder then moves on to what he and his acolytes want from us. “The first thing that we are calling you to is Islam.” This is part-and-parcel of declaring jihad. Islamic tradition says before doing so you must give your enemy a chance to convert. (Maybe Osama should have sent this before 9/11, then.) Notice none of these TikToking tools recited the shahadah. (The Musim profession of faith: “there is no deity but Allah, and Muhammad is his messenger.”) Others supposedly are. Although I advise the “leftist queer gremlin” who did so to avoid visiting any of the 13 countries I mentioned earlier. Or Gaza. We raised you as Christians, boys. So I’m not too worried about your heeding OBL in this regard.
The West: Immoral and Atheist
OBL also decries “the immoral acts of fornication, homosexuality, intoxicants, gambling” practiced in the West. I hate to agree with him on anything, but I also hope you avoid those vices. (Although as a former undergrad fraternity president, I can’t come down too hard on the responsible use of alcohol.) But, again, why would progressives, professors or students, celebrate Muslim puritanism? It’s not exactly hip to be that square. Because they’re blinded by their Red-Green glasses.
You know what should be even more problematic for Bin Laden’s newly-minted social media supporters? He condemns our secular constitution, that we separate religion and state, and we aren’t ruled by the “Shariah of Allah.” No doubt many of them deem “Christian Nationalism” the greatest threat to the Republic. Yet they give Islamic Nationalism, a key plank in the platform of OBL, Hamas, and every other Islamic fundamentalist group, a pass.
Democracy is White?
He also blames America, as do many on the secular Left, for AIDS, “destroying nature with industrial waste,” and dropping nuclear bombs on Japan. We also somehow make democracy work only for “the white race.” That latter would be news to the folks of India, South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Brazil, Mongolia, Japan and South Korea.
The Crusades — Of Course!
Finally, and unsurprisingly, OBL trots out the Crusades. Accusing the U.S. of waging such against the Islamic world. Trust me, having taught this topic for 15 years, most students enter college convinced that the Crusades were nothing but horrific, uncalled-for attacks on peace-loving, brown-skinned Muslims. And almost all of them will simply have that view reinforced, if not inflamed, by university professors. The truth of the Crusades as defensive wars, which Raymond Ibrahim points out, is nowhere to be found in higher education. So, on yet another issue, OBL’s propaganda find fertile ground among the poorly-educated.
Thank God you two aren’t as clueless as Bin Laden’s merry band of TikToking buffs. All those impromptu lectures, as I drove you back and forth to school, basketball and fencing tournaments, and football games, sunk in. Most of your classmates probably weren’t so fortunate, if I may be allowed a bit of fatherly hubris. For many of your generation, facts don’t matter when you’re morally right. (Ditto for some of those of much older generations.) Thank God your mother and I were able to teach you that facts and morals both matter.
And by the way: stay off TikTok.
Timothy Furnish holds a Ph.D. in Islamic, World and African history from Ohio State University and a M.A. in Theology from Concordia Seminary. He is a former U.S. Army Arabic linguist and, later, civilian consultant to U.S. Special Operations Command. He’s the author of books on the Middle East and Middle-earth, a history professor and sometime media opiner (as, for example, on Fox News Channel’s War Stories: Fighting ISIS). He currently writes for and consults The Stream on International Security matters.