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Op-ed: America, Stop Buying Taliban Merch

By Ari Mostow and Billy O’Handley | Staff Writers

Now that Afghanistan has fallen to the Taliban, many Americans feel hopeless for the fate of the country. However, there is a way ordinary people like you can help: stop buying the Taliban’s online merch.

Yes, it can be incredibly tempting to purchase a “Don’t ban education till I’ve had my coffee” mug. They also make great crocheted pencil pouches, surprisingly. We are not preaching from a mountaintop either. Between us, we’ve spent hundreds of dollars on their Etsy page, most recently the Tali-banana Novelty Stapler. It’s basically a tiny stapler that looks like a banana, and it’s absolutely hilarious! We deeply regret its purchase, but due to their cruel and barbaric “no-returns” policy under Sharia law, it stays on our desks.

Simply put, there’s no denying that the Taliban makes great knick knacks, but unfortunately, they are a very toxic organization. We need to stop buying all of their merch—that includes those super cute Mawlawi Hibatullah Akhundzada bobble heads.

They also make great crocheted pencil pouches, surprisingly.

For two decades, the United States artificially suppressed the Taliban’s merch sales by flooding the market with 88 billion dollars worth of waffle-knit beanies, bedazzled flip-flops, and various other tchotchkes. Now that we’ve withdrawn from the region, the Taliban’s only competition is the Afghani Armed Forces’ pathetic little bake sale. Their pastries don’t hold a candle to the Taliban’s perfect line of imitation girl scout cookies (which, even shipped from Afghanistan, are somehow still warm and gooey in the center) but please do not buy these mouthwatering desserts, as they are the single largest source of funding for all Taliban operations. Instead, buy the Afghani Armed Forces’ flaxseed muffins; they aren’t that hard to chew if you use enough milk.

Taliban
The Taliban announced a 20 percent discount on all personalized keychains to celebrate the fall of Kabul.

Before you despair, you should know there are so many other paramilitary organizations making great merch you can buy instead of the Taliban’s, from child soldier macaroni necklaces out of Uganda to colorful Colombian drug cartel throw pillows.

It’s time we level with ourselves and admit that Americans, with our tote bag and acrylic keychain purchases, are at least partially to blame for the fall of Kandahar. So repeat after me: no more Taliban merch. And while you’re at it, don’t shop at The Gap. They use sweatshop labor. ♦

Thank you for reading!
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