By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Massacred:So, what lessons can we learn from the 3-to-1 stomping of the ballot-box effort to halt Farmers Branch's anti-illegal immigrant ordinance? That Farmers Branch residents are bigoted butt-heads? Perhaps, though honestly Buzz doubts the people there are any worse than anywhere else. "All men are racists," an old English prof used to tell us, quoting someone. "Decent men are ashamed of it."
Maybe Farmers Branch has a slight deficiency in shame, but we'd say the real lesson is this: Democracy is the best form of government ever, provided voters are on your side.
No one had to tell local Latino activist Carlos Quintanilla that. Too bad others didn't listen to him when he tried to share the lesson. Quintanilla was on one side of a divide among opponents to the Farmers Branch ordinance: He thought seeking a referendum was a bad idea, and that opponents should stick to the courts to seek relief. He lost that battle.
"They said I was crazy," Quintanilla says. "I said it would be a massacre, and it was a massacre."
Unfortunately for Quintanilla, he's not the sort—like Buzz—who can take solace in the sweet comfort of schadenfreude. "I can't feel good about it," he says.
Quintanilla argued many weeks ago that the ordinance opponents could not get the votes they needed for a simple reason: Though people of Latino origin made up 37.2 percent of Farmers Branch's population in the 2000 census—and probably more now—most of them can't vote, either because they're too young or they're not citizens.
If Quintanilla's right, then anti-immigrant forces should celebrate while they can; their victory Saturday might be short-lived, and not just because Quintanilla and a coalition of local business owners plan to seek an injunction in federal court to halt enforcement of the ordinance. There's this: While the ordinance is aimed directly at apartment complexes that rent to illegal immigrants, much of the city's Latino population consists of legal residents who are buying homes in the working-class neighborhoods along LBJ. Ask yourself: If you struggled to get here and buy a home, how quickly would you walk away from equity?
Demographics is destiny, baby, and all the votes in the world can't fight destiny.
In the meantime, Quintanilla says the challenge is to get those legal residents made citizens and to get their teenage U.S.-born kids educated about and involved in politics. They need leadership, he says. Wonder who he has in mind.