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Sam Morin, 17, right, and Briason Foley, 15, hold protest signs outside a prayer vigil after a mass shooting the day before Sunday, May 7, 2023, in Allen, Texas. // AP Photo/LM Otero

VOICES: We’re turning America into Afghanistan


By Carmen Gentile

One of the things I most disliked while covering the war in Afghanistan was chronicling death tolls. 

Reporting on “dozens killed in a deadly blast that rocked the Afghan capital” or “an intense firefight with Taliban fighters left several soldiers dead” over and over again left me feeling hollowed out by the routine violence and my empathy reserves depleted. 

“Death tolls” were no longer people, just numbers compared to previous mass killings to determine their relative severity. Drawing on those comparisons, editors half a world away decided where my stories appeared on the homepage depending on how many innocents were slaughtered. 

I decided to stop doing that kind of reporting all the time because I felt like I was losing my humanity in the face of all that death, and imagined I’d eventually assume a sunnier disposition, not to mention live to see my daughter grow up. 

So I started Postindustrial to learn more about Postindustrial Communities around the world, and share informative and entertaining stories with an ever-growing audience on a wide variety of topics, including arts, entertainment, and all the fun stuff that gets swept aside when war breaks out. 

And while we’ve done all that and more since Postindustrial’s founding in 2018 (we’re celebrating our fifth anniversary soon), I find that the violence and the senseless mass shootings often take center stage due to their frequency and some lawmakers’ unwillingness to stand up to gun-obsessed Americans

The Allen, Texas, Nashville, Louisville, etc., mass shootings just in the last few weeks alone, illustrate how naive (i.e. stone stupid) I was about covering America these days.  

Since the advent of Postindustrial, the number of mass shootings we’ve covered is staggering and depressing. Many of those killed were students, like the 9-year-olds slain at a recent Nashville school shooting. Others were enjoying a day of shopping, like those butchered in Texas, including a 3-year-old. 

I see more weapons of war on the streets of American cities than I ever did in the Afghan capital, Kabul. Armed protests and folks with easy-to-obtain carry permits, as well as states that recently did away with any licensing, are making America look like a goddamn war zone.

Those lawmakers who refuse to do anything to protect our children and other innocents from gun violence are obviously dead inside. 

Every time a group of bigoted chuckleheads protest a drag brunch, they’re cradling (more likely mishandling), an AR-15 or some other assault rifle that stands in for their ineffective members. Because it’s almost always all guys comprising these dimwit, gun-obsessed mobs. 

Just look at how many mass shootings have occurred so far this year. If you didn’t click the preceding hyperlink, I’ll let you know: At least 22 in which four or more people, not including the gunmen, were killed. 

Others using less fatal metrics have the number of mass killings far outpacing the number of days in 2023, with more than 200 so far this year. 

Are you outraged? Saddened? Frightened? 

I know I used to be. I’ve written so many columns for Postindustrial on guns, each one of them dripping with contempt for those that choose guns over our kids’ safety. 

But now, I feel like I’m right back in Afghanistan chronicling the daily death toll from terror attacks and battlefield casualties. Just sub out “Afghanistan” for any city in America. 

“A gunman who espoused extremist and racist rhetoric killed several people in a Buffalo supermarket …” 

Once again, I’m starting to sense my insides deadening due to my increasing numbness to the killings and total lack of any surprise. 

Clearly I’m not the only one. 

Those lawmakers who refuse to do anything to protect our children and other innocents from gun violence are obviously dead inside. 

Those that pose with their children for Christmas cards strapped with assault rifles, all those that celebrate and sanctify guns more than life, constitute a deadly terror group infringing on the rights of the rest of us, have no humanity. 

All of these heartless ghouls remind me of my reporting days in Afghanistan, and the hell extremist forces put the rest of the country through in their never-ending quest to assert their wrong-headed and inhumane principles on the innocent majority. 

Because they are, in effect, our American Taliban.

Carmen Gentile

Postindustrial founder Carmen Gentile has worked for some of the world’s leading publications and news outlets including The New York Times, USA Today, CBS News and others. His book, “Blindsided by the Taliban,” documents his life as a war reporter and the aftermath of his brush with death after being shot with a rocket-propelled grenade in Afghanistan. He also is a board member of Industry’s Humanitarian Support Alliance. Reach him at

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