Dear Gen Z: Bin Laden Was A Bad Person

Dear Gen Z: Bin Laden Was A Bad Person November 16, 2023


Hi, kids! This is your weird old Aunt Mary you can say anything to. I’m an elder Millennial– I was born all the way back in 1984. I have something to say about a recent TikTok trend.

I know I’m not the kind of person you’d usually listen to about things that happen on TikTok and and Snapchat and Teddy Graham Gram and whatever other social media you’re using these days. But the topic involves something that deeply affected my generation. I feel like I should let you know about it.


If you’re going to spread that letter he wrote, or rather some paragraphs from the letter out of context, on TikTok right now, you need to know that you’re sharing a cringe letter written by a bad person and you ought to stop.

I’m not saying George W. Bush and his cronies WEREN’T bad people, mind you. They were and are. I’m just saying, Osama Bin Laden was a bad person.

I’m not saying there weren’t many reasons for people from the Middle East to hate America. There were. But still, Osama Bin Laden was a bad person.

I’m not saying Palestine isn’t suffering from horrendous atrocities right now either. They are. And yes, some of the paragraphs in that letter The Guardian deleted talk about Palestine. But still, Osama Bin Laden was not a good guy. And he wasn’t a problematic guy who acted regrettably but had interesting things to say either. He was very much a bad guy whose image needs no rehabilitation. You really need to find someone else to quote about Palestine.

It wasn’t just mean old greedy capitalists in suits who were murdered on 9/11, you know. It was also middle class and poor people trying to go about their day. Working class folks who were there to serve mimosas to rich tourists that wanted to have breakfast 110 stories in the air were murdered. Immigrants were murdered. A really cool gay priest was murdered. Children lost their parents. Families who were just getting by lost their breadwinners and suffered horribly. Everyone standing in the vicinity inhaled powdered building, and a lot of them got painful cancers.

Having to watch human beings jump off a 110-story building on live television on a school day, hearing them splatter on the ground, learning that they weren’t unconscious when they hit– that was a deep trauma for the whole country, even those of us who didn’t lose anybody we knew personally.

Would we have found an excuse to invade Iraq and Afghanistan and kill hundreds of thousands of civilians anyway? Quite possibly. But the fact that we were all reeling and sick from what we’d witnessed sure made it easier for President Dubya to do whatever he wanted. Would we have been Islamophobic bigots either way? Unfortunately, yes. But the wave of anti-Islamic hatred triggered by 9/11 wasn’t fun for any of the people who were hurt and killed by it either.

And even if you could somehow delude yourself into thinking the 9/11 terrorist attacks were a good thing: Bin Laden didn’t bravely sacrifice himself. He sat on his rear end and sent people to sacrifice their lives for him. He wasn’t some scrappy freedom fighter. He was a wealthy university-educated fat cat from an aristocrat family who sent other people to kill and die. Remind you of anyone? It should remind you of a lot of really, really bad people.

There are plenty of other sources you could be sharing about Palestine right now. You do not need to share anything written by Bin Laden. Make something else go viral.

No cap.



Mary Pezzulo is the author of Meditations on the Way of the Cross, The Sorrows and Joys of Mary, and Stumbling into Grace: How We Meet God in Tiny Works of Mercy.






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