wild wild country episode 3 10:00 18
A new Netflix docuseries has dropped, and if you haven’t seen it yet you probably should. Wild Wild Country is a six-part series detailing the rise and fall of Indian guru Bhagwan Rajneesh’s utopian community established in the wilderness of Oregon. It’s an absolutely wild ride that includes rigging local elections, one of the nations longest wiretapping cases, the poisoning of a small town, and immigration fraud on a massive scale. The different sides of the story are told through a combination of archival footage and new interviews conducted with people from every facet of the story. One thing that struck me was the depth to which everyone interviewed, regardless of whether they were a part of the commune or an enemy of it, whole-heartedly believed they were on the right side of history.
One of the people interviewed was Bhagwan’s former personal secretary and mastermind of most of the crimes that happened, Ma Aanad Sheela. She was a central figure throughout the series, and listening to her talk without any sign of remorse about what she did was one of the most surreal parts of watching the show. The Holocaust becomes involved at this point because of two pieces of archival footage that play in the third episode of the series. In the first on, a local Oregon man states that Sheela is “the closest thing to Hitler that I have ever seen in my life, and I have seen the people coming out of Buchenwald and I’ve seen them come out of Dachau. The only thing she don’t have yet is the ovens”. Later in the episode another towns-person says that they’ve got “a concentration camp up there” in reference to the town the followers of the Bhagwan had built.
There is no doubt that Sheela committed crimes, and in fact she went to prison for them eventually. Unfortunately, this is an example of someone using the Holocaust and Hitler of the “ultimate evil” in order to evoke a specific feeling because there was no evidence that there were Holocaust-like activities happening in the camp. Although this occurred shortly after the Jonestown massacre, there were virtually no similarities between the two communities. Of all Sheela’s crimes, mass murder was never among them.