Anti-Muslim rhetoric currently receives widespread media coverage. In the face of a massive refugee crisis and growing instability across the Middle East and North Africa, the public discourse often eschews nuanced distinctions about extremism and misappropriation of violence and instead takes the form of broader attacks on Islam. Distinguishing between Muslims and radical Islamic terrorist groups is critical to developing and implementing effective counterterrorism policy.

National security and counterterrorism experts agree that rhetoric that paints all Muslims as terrorists or terrorist sympathizers has a high chance of breeding future terrorists. Additionally, empirical evidence suggests such language can hamper U.S. efforts to stop terrorists before they strike and to capture them after attacks.

Gen. James Mattis

Last week, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand laid down a clear marker: She’ll filibuster the waiver that retired Gen. James Mattis would need in order to serve as secretary of defense during Trump’s administration.

A 70-year-old federal law bars retired members of the military from holding senior defense posts if they’ve served on active duty within the last seven years. Mattis retired only three years ago and thus requires a special waiver to pass both houses of Congress.

The special legislation passed 65 years ago to make Gen. George Marshall secretary of defense amended the 1947 national security act, which shaped U.S. military and intelligence agencies after World War II. The amended legislation said that while Marshall was permitted to serve as defense secretary, “the authority granted by this Act is not to be construed as approval by the Congress of continuing appointments of military men in the office of Secretary of Defense in the future.”

“While I deeply respect General Mattis’s service, I will oppose a waiver. Civilian control of our military is a fundamental principle of American democracy, and I will not vote for an exception to this rule.” -Sen. Gillibrand

While the filibuster for cabinet appointees was eliminated a few years back, meaning a nominee can be confirmed with just 50 votes in the Senate, the waiver Mattis requires is subject to a filibuster. Mattis would therefore need 60 votes in order to become secretary of defense—so he’d need the support of at least eight Democrats to overcome a filibuster.

Sen. Gillibrand’s filibuster is the type of leadership needed in the face a president-elect dead set on eroding constitutional norms. Help us call on other Democratic Senators to follow her lead.

Call Senator Mark R. Warner at (202) 224-2023 and Senator Tim Kaine at (202) 224-4024. Tell them to filibuster the waiver Gen. Mattis needs to become secretary of defense.

Sample script:

Hi, I’m Jane from Madison, Virginia. I’m calling today to urge my senator to filibuster the waiver Gen. Mattis needs to become secretary of defense. Civilian control of the military is a bedrock foundation of any democracy, and it’s more important than ever to uphold it now that we have a president-elect dead set on eroding constitutional norms. Thank you.

Once you’ve placed the call, please click here to tell us how it went.

Thanks for all you do,
David Nir
Political Director, Daily Kos

P.S. Can’t call? Click here to sign and send a letter to your Democratic senator(s) urging them to filibuster the waiver Gen. Mattis needs to become secretary of defense.

Daily Kos, PO Box 70036, Oakland, CA, 94612.