When two Austin landlords bulldozed a Hispanic family’s piñata store on 20 March, to make space for a party, they destroyed the property of people they regarded as “roaches”. They destroyed someone else’s American Dream, believing them to be inferior, helpless and without basic rights.
This news story makes disturbing reading. One of the landlords used language that clearly indicates a supremacist attitude: “Say you have a house that was infested by roaches… You have to clean that up”, though he later said “This issue was never about race” and claimed that his remark had been “misinterpreted”.
A redeeming feature of the story is that the CEO of an organisation involved with the party pulled out when he heard about the bulldozing. He showed a sense of decency that the landlords entirely lacked.
The family is going to court to obtain compensation for the loss of property, but one of them said “We don’t want money… We want to survive and we want respect.” The law cannot supply an adequate remedy. The whole community, white and Hispanic, should unite in ostracising the landlords; moral disapprobation is an appropriate sanction against people who don’t know how to behave and who trample on the rights of others.