Read through archived FRONTLINE/World
conversations around this story, including responses from
A Bengali - New York, New York
I am originally from Calcutta, the great city for Art and
Culture and currently live in New York. I have this following
message to all of you who conducted the opera:
Bin Laden can't be a Hero; in spite of his devotion to
the Muslim religion / people. He is nothing but an extremist
and a symbol of conflict. A religion should never conflict
with humanity; but that is what he is doing. There is more
bad side of him than the good side.
Many people, including myself may have been shocked by
this message through this opera; I think they shouldn't
choose Bin Laden to portray America's Imperialism.
If the message is to criticize America's war policy, they
shouldn't choose to impress people with a distorted image
of a Terrorist.
Shravan Jumani - Buffalo, New
I would like to offer an Indian perspective on this segment.
The subtext, as I interpreted it, went something like this:
Anti-Americanism is so rampant in India that Hindus and
Muslims (a minority in India) have put aside their significant
differences to counter American Imperialism. Nothing could
be further from the truth. In fact, the Jatra in question
became national headlines because it was out of the norm
and not reflective of common public opinion. A quick glance
at the editorials in the leading newspapers would have shown
this. It is a fact that most Indians are uncomfortable with
the way that US handled Iraq. However, when it comes to
9/11 and its aftermath, Indians sympathize with the US and
see it as a natural ally in the fight against terrorism.
We have been at the receiving end
of terrorism - just take a look at Kashmir. It is a great
surprise to me that bin Laden was portrayed as a hero. Most
people in India are aware of the links between bin Laden,
the Taliban and the trouble in Kashmir. It is even more
surprising that the reporter did not gain an appreciation
of this crucial difference between majority public opinion
and a minority fringe - a fringe that is in the business
of selling sensationalism.
A skewed presentation of facts,
as I believe has been the case with this piece, has far
reaching repercussions for Indians in America. I can just
foresee the difficulty I am going to face when trying to
respond to questions from American acquaintances who want
to understand "why does the world hate us?" and why is bin
Laden a hero in India. The world does not hate America and
bin Laden is not a hero in India - I wonder if they will
take that at face value.
Michael R. Tom - San Francisco, California
'Shocked' seems a rather extreme word especially when Rath
knows that the average citizen both Indian and American
do not see beyond their own eyes, their own set of values
and what media source they permit themselves to see. Americanized
globalization is perceived as a threat in nations such as
India, it is perceived as the new imperialism. This view
finds it's way into popular media like the Jatra. American
globalization is perceived as triumphalism- a manifest destiny.
It is reflected in such popular media such as Fox News.
Joey Smythe - Seattle, Washington
I am pleasantly surprised at the stories carried by Frontline/World.
As we can see, by both the Venezuelan and Indian stories,
there seems to be greater tolerance for dissenting political
views outside the USA than in it. We'd better wake up soon
and stop kidding ourselves that we're the model of democracy
to the rest of the world, otherwise we'll end up with the
abusive and authoritarian government.
Jaideep Desai - New York, New York
I think that the producers of the "Jatra" are a minority
of so called "Leftists" who don't share any common thread
with most Indians. Like the real Bin Laden they are envious
of the west and have no way to fight it so they stage these
fantasy dramas of the pious nature of Bin laden.
Why did they not depict the ugly side of the bombers who
went to strip clubs the weekend before Sept. 11. Also why
did bin laden never provide computers or modern tools to
the madrassas he funded while providing the same "western"
tools to his kids. Hopefully Arun Rath did more in India
than talk to the Jatra producers and the limited audience
that watched it.
Sarah Wood - New Mexico
Why would Arun Rath be 'shocked' that America is portrayed
as the villian in the Jarat about bin Laden? What is shocking
is how we have squandered the world's good will with our
bullying actions in the aftermath of 9/11. Raging anti-Americanism,
Afghanistan and Iraq in ruins, and increased recruitment
to Al-Qaeda - no wonder we haven't heard from bin Laden.
We're doing the job for him.
Regarding your June 12th segment of "India, Starring Osama
Bin Laden", I want to express disgust at the Indian folk
play featured in the story. While the opera had some fine
artistic valves despite its crude production during the
first part of the play, I was angered and shocked when the
Indians portrayed the stereotypical Evil American Imperialist
that is so commonly used by anti-Americanist these days,
while Bin Laden is smarmingly depicted as a messiah-like
figure fighting for all religion. That's sick[en]ing. It's
even more sick[en]ing as after the play audience memebers
talking with cutesy smiles how the play helped them see
the Bin Laden "is a good man" and that we "created" him.
Gah, I can't believe those people. Bin Laden murdered 3,000
people, robbed the US of a great New York landmark, and
commit other fatal terrorisms like the Kenya Embassy bombing,
the USS Cole and so forth. And some Indian folk oprea folks
and audiences what to turn this bloodthirsty monster in
a hero? And make his victims villians? It's like learning
about a play that that makes a hero out of Adolf Hitler.