(CNN)The impending nuptials of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle may have just hit their first snag: Whether to invite Donald Trump.
I say snub away.
Weddings are supposed to be joyous occasions celebrating a couple’s love and marking the beginning of life together as a family. Sometimes that means inviting and tolerating Uncle Jimmy, who everyone could predict would have a few too many whiskeys and fall into the drum set, or your elementary school best friend Stacey — and risking her comically bad and potentially dangerous attempts at twerking.
Families and social circles are complicated, and we put up with each others’ flaws, quirks and foibles. But it doesn’t mean you have to invite your uncle who is going to make other guests uncomfortable, and whose very presence signals that you care more about keeping the peace than respecting your partner and your shared values.
Trump is that uncle, except instead of an annual opportunity for a Thanksgiving tirade, he has the biggest soapbox on the planet and the power to put his abhorrent views into action. His refugee bans should offend anyone with even a sliver of a conscience; his alleged harassment of women in his personal life and his attacks on women’s rights in his presidency should lead any bride, and any halfway decent groom, to deem him wedding persona non grata.
The Trump family has a history of racism, going back to the days when the President and his father were accused of denying African-Americans the right to live in their properties. Trump still suggests the Central Park Five, young black and Latino men accused of raping a white women, were guilty, even after they were proven innocent with DNA evidence. He was also the celebrity face of the “birther” movement, a group of conspiracy theorists who claimed Barack Obama was born in Kenya.
That should be enough to scratch him off any wedding guest list, but especially one where the bride is biracial. What message does it send to demand that a woman of color smile politely and welcome a leader accused of multiple counts of discrimination (all of which he denies) to one of the most joyful days of her life?
By inviting Obama and refusing to invite Trump, the royal family would send a clear message: Meghan Markle matters more than the man in the Oval Office. It would be a tremendous showing of solidarity, and a true embrace of their newest member.
Of course, there are politics to worry about, even if the royals claim to be above them. But they can’t have it both ways by saying they are inviting the Trumps because of political sensitivities between the US and the UK, and also denying that they are signaling tacit approval of the Trump agenda by inviting him. And they have a convenient cover: The Obamas, then in the White House, apparently were not invited to the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.
Bigotry becomes normalized when we excuse or even embrace the people who put bigotry into action. You can’t oppose Trump’s policies and then golf with him on the weekends, as if you could set aside politics for collegiality on the green — ask refugees currently living in squalor, often in fear of rape, abuse, or death and with no foreseeable way out, if politics can be separated from one’s “real” life.
Nor can the royals claim to be beacons of goodness and service — Prince Harry focuses his efforts on service members, vulnerable children, including those living with HIV, and African conservation — and extend a wedding invitation to a man who has shown himself in business, in the White House and on Twitter to often behave less than honorably.
This is, after all, a man who is recently reported to have said that Haitian immigrants “all have AIDS” and Nigerians in the US would never “go back to their huts” in Africa. (The White House has since denied Trump made such statements.)
A man that awful doesn’t deserve to be seated at a Cracker Barrel, let alone at a royal wedding.