Senator John McCain recently defended Arizona’s immigration law by calling it necessary “to provide its citizens with secure borders.”
In doing so, he employed a strategy of reducing the offensiveness (which is one of five image-repair strategies described by William Benoit). For example, he discussed the act in terms of abstract values and group loyalties (a method known as transcendence) by stating:
“This is a struggle on our side of the border for the fundamental obligation that any government has, and that is to provide its citizens with secure borders. Right now our citizens are not safe.”
In addition, he attacked the law’s accusers by calling into question the Federal government’s lack of action or control over the issue:
“This situation is the worst I’ve ever seen,” declared McCain. “If you don’t like the bill…then carry out the federal responsibilities, which are to secure the border.”
He went on to say: “This is a national security issue where the United States of America has an unsecured border between Arizona and Mexico, which has led to violence.”
The comments were made in defense of the controversial immigration bill that Arizona recently signed into law. According to the law, local police are required to look for, question, and detain any person who appears to be in the United States illegally. Critics of the law argue that it will lead to racial profiling.
The comments from both sides of the controversy call into question some underlying assumptions about America’s values. Put simply, do national security and safety trump personal freedoms, or is it the other way around?