A Facebook post related to the Boston Marathon bombing surprised its American author by going viral in Pakistan this weekend. On Saturday, Micah Daigle, who grew up in Rhode Island and now lives in San Francisco, composed and posted an alternative narrative of the final moments of the hunt for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
“On Friday at 7:05pm Eastern Time, Boston Police received a report that suspected terrorist Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was hiding in a boat in Watertown,” began the counterfactual dispatch. “At 7:15pm, the low buzz of a drone was heard overheard. Seconds later, an enormous explosion engulfed the area, destroying the boat and several nearby homes. Sources say 46 Watertown residents were killed in the missile strike, including 12 children.”
Daigle, 28, the founder of consulting firm Collective Agency, is accustomed to a handful of likes and shares on his personal Facebook page. Instead, his post began zipping around among Pakistani Facebook users, who thanked Daigle for seeing the world from their perspective. By Monday, it had been liked and shared more than 7,000 times, with over 1,000 comments -- hundreds of them thoughtful and engaging (before the trolls inevitably took over).
“I wasn't expecting it,” Daigle told HuffPost. “I am not a prominent anti-war activist, and I've never done any work protesting drone strikes. This was just something I needed to vent. I figured it would get a hundred likes and maybe a few shares. I never imagined it would blow up like this.”
Daigle's post continued:
Of course, that's not what happened. But if it did, wouldn't we find it unconscionable?
If so, then why are Americans okay with our government doing this to people in other countries?
In Pakistan alone, the U.S. government has killed more than 3,000 people with drone strikes... and only 1 out of 50 were suspected terrorists. The rest were bystanders, rescue workers, and children.
Let's stop this madness now.
One people. One planet.
As the post noted, many of those killed by drone strikes are not high-level terrorism suspects. (When Americans learn that drones more routinely kill low-level militants and innocent civilians, polling shows they turn against them.)
The comments under Daigle's post range from the typical accusations of a lack of patriotism to more profound insights rooted in a genuine curiosity about American culture.
“I dont know why does the American media not call an American killer a terrorist,” a user named Ali Hashmi wonders. “For instance, in the case when a young university student mass murdered hundreds of people on the Batman premiere, the media called him a guy with an extraordinary academic record, a socially disturbed guy. My question, why not a terrorist?”
Some minds appear to have changed.
John Swaim, who described himself as a former Navy servicemember, was initially unsympathetic. “When enemies hide amongst women and children when they're fighting their holy jihad against us I have less sympathy. Perhaps we should go back to the Vietnam days when we carpet-bombed. You declare war against us, and then hide amongst women and children in between murders and mayhem? No, the drones are effective and necessary,” he wrote.
Hashmi and others invited Swaim to visit them in Pakistan to meet the people being bombed. Eventually, he turned around:
"I am sorry it has come to this between our countries," he wrote. "I wish our countries showed as much respect to each other ad you all have shown me here. I'm getting older, and although I have knowledge I strive for some wisdom. Thank you for your courtesy to me, and feel free to contact me again. I CAN change my mind about some things, and who knows, I could be beginning to change some of my beliefs already. Good night, and take care."