On Wednesday night, Donald Trump will host an iftar dinner at the White House in commemoration of Ramadan, a holy month of fasting in the Islamic calendar. On behalf of us Muslims everywhere, I’d like to RSVP ‘fuck no’.
During last year’s Ramadan, the Trump administration skipped hosting the dinner entirely, breaking the annual tradition that started more than two decades ago. So this year’s invitation comes as a surprise, much as I would be surprised if my high school bully sent me a gold laminated invitation to their bottomless mimosa brunch.
I’m not the only one who’s a little confused. Pacific Standard reports that none of the Muslim-American community leaders interviewed had been invited to attend the iftar dinner. The White House hasn’t even revealed an official guest list of diplomats who will be attending, which makes me think...maybe no one is actually going to this thing???
If we take the White House invitation at face value, it is almost completely devoid of meaning. Historically, the annual iftar dinner has been a symbolic move: It allows a space for prominent Muslim community members to meet with diplomats and politicians. It also provides a public and symbolic show of good faith between Muslims and the White House administration, however empty that show might be in real policy terms. But even this somewhat shallow symbolic move loses absolutely all meaning in the face of Trump’s public views and policies that are openly and violently discriminatory towards Muslims, including a literal ‘Muslim ban’.
So thanks, but no thanks. I have better things to do, real iftar feasts to go to. In my imagination, the State Dining Hall will be beautifully decorated and completely empty tonight. Trump will sit alone at the head of a table laden with food, like an angry spoiled prince who’s screamed all of his guests away.