The first episode of the documentary explores just how much preternatural bigotry the group faced when they arrived in town. Some may say the suspicions were earned by what everyone learned near the ending — that the Bhagwan had to flee India in order to avoid punitive action from the government, just like he later faced in the U.S. — but the local Antelope residents didn’t know any of that at the time.
They merely knew they had strange new neighbors, and they didn’t like them.
“Wild Wild Country” depicts a frightening level of intolerance that quickly breeds violence.The bombing drew first blood, and Oregon suspended the right to vote in order to preserve their status quo: Both actions are illegal. Both weren’t committed by Rajneeshees. So much of what happens in the docuseries stems from a fear of the unknown, and so much of what Sheela does is in reaction to that. In a country founded on religious freedom, there’s an institutional rejection of new practices before those new practices proved illegal.
That’s unnerving in its relevance — to immigrants, to minorities, to so many people who feel threatened under the current administration — and at the heart of the conflict is Sheela; a problem for everyone involved, but representative of a problem that still needs to be solved.