The 'Ethical' Surplus of the War on Illegal Immigration
Leticia M. Saucedo
University of California, Davis - School of Law
Francis Joseph Mootz III
University of the Pacific - McGeorge School of Law
April 19, 2012
Iowa Journal on Gender, Race and Justice, 2012, Forthcoming
UC Davis Legal Studies Research Paper No. 291
The Aristotelian philosopher, Gene Garver, suggests that rhetorical claims have an "ethical surplus" that extends beyond the specific claim being advanced at the moment. This follows from the fact that rhetoric includes not only logos, but also pathos and ethos. We adopt the thesis of "ethical surplus," but in a negative context. The "war on illegal immigration" has generated an ethical surplus that leads its promoters beyond the specific claim of securing borders against unlawful entry. After demonstrating that there is an express rhetoric of "war" used in connection with Arizona's adoption of recent anti-immigrant legislation, we explore the implication of this rhetoric in the more recent effort to eliminate race-conscious education programs focused on Mexican Americans in the public schools of Tucson. We conclude that the war on illegal immigration has generated its ethical surplus in a manner that betrays the true character of this war. It is not a war against undocumented border crossing; rather, it is a war against the perceived threat posed by Mexicans living in the United States. As the ethical surplus of the anti-immigrant hyperbole becomes manifest, it reveals clearly the immoral and discriminatory nature of the rhetoric at work.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 24
Keywords: Immigration, Aristotle, Eugene Garver, Ethical Surplus, Ethos, ethnic studies, SB1070, HB2281, Tom Horne, War
Date posted: April 20, 2012
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