There is a small town in country Victoria called Beulah. According to the last census in 2016, it had 329 people living in it.
The town made the news recently when a couple of residents began flying the Nazi flag above their property. It was to show their German heritage, the home owner told the Age newspaper.
People were understandably upset and horrified. There was strong public encouragement from the council to stop flying that particular flag. But the council could do nothing about it as the flag was on their property.
We could stereotype it as small town racism. But we’d be wrong. And what happened next made me miss Australia.
SBS reported in two days, about 60 past and present residents gathered at the local pool to make a public stand. They wanted to show the town and the rest of Australia the two residents who proudly displayed the Nazi symbol did not represent them.
With them were flags of many different nations. They held the Aboriginal flag, the Rainbow flag, and many others including flags from South Korea, Japan, Afghanistan, Australia, Canada and India.
All of them belonged in their town.
“We’ve strung them all amongst the trees… we had lots and lots of flags flying,” said Barb Moore, the secretary of the Beulah Historical, Learning and Progress Association and organiser of the event.
“We just wanted to show look, that’s not us.”
I couldn’t help feeling a little proud and grateful for their public welcome. Their protest felt like a giant hug from home. We may be many, but we are one, it proclaimed. You may speak, dress, eat differently, but you are one of us, it suggested.
And I loved them for it.