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The Need To Maintain the Status Quo

Saito, Natsu Taylor, "Maintaining the Racial, Economic, Social and Political Status Quo: Exclusion, Marginalization and Criminalization,"
," adapted from Natsu Taylor Saito, "FOR 'OUR' SECURITY: Who is an 'American' and What is Protected by Enhanced Law Enforcement and Intelligence Powers?" Seattle Journal for Social Justice 2(1) (2002): 58-59.

Abstract: Saito identifies the criminal justice system (and the intelligence agencies that support it) as key to the maintenance of the racial, economic, social, and political status quo in the United States. She calls the notion that America is a "nation of immigrants" a myth, since this idea sanitizes U.S. history by implying that all immigrants came voluntarily, and it ignores the contributions of Native peoples, slaves and others who are non-White. By reviewing U.S. legislative history since the Nixon Administration, she shows how this myth helps label anyone in these groups as "Other" and foreign. "Foreignness" became equated with not being sufficiently loyal to the United States and even having terrorist sympathies as well. These ideas evolved into a definition of the modern day Enemy.

Identifying the Enemy at various times in history has allowed for:

  • The use of fear to pass restrictive legislation in the name of safety and security;
  • Successive waves of campaigns evolving from a War on Crime to the War on Drugs and to the War on Terrorism;
  • The reinforcement of the status quo of a U.S. based on racial hierarchy and White privilege that protects only a small segment of the American public.

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