Donald Trump stole my mom and I wish she would come back

She didn't come to my wedding. There was an empty seat at my graduation. She even sent back all the gifts I'd ever bought her — because of one man and the warnings I gave her

Jay Weixelbaum
Baltimore, Maryland
Tuesday 23 July 2019 17:36 BST
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I tried to talk to her about my specialism. She didn't want to hear
I tried to talk to her about my specialism. She didn't want to hear

I don’t have a mom anymore. Trump stole her.

In 2017, she refused to come to my wedding in Baltimore. Two years later, when I walked across the stage to celebrate the completion of nine years of graduate school and earn a PhD, her chair stood empty. My messages to her on Facebook remain unanswered. Apparently she read them, because six months ago I received a box of all the childhood photos and elementary school records she kept – along with all the gifts I had given her over the past two decades. The box didn’t contain a note.

What did I do to merit such a punishment? I yelled at her about her vote for Trump. But let’s back up.

I mentioned I was a scholar, right? I specifically study American companies and their relationship to Nazi Germany and the Holocaust. When my mom and I were still on speaking terms, I would tell her about the implications of my research. I’d try to explain to her the dangers of racist populism, demagoguery, and corporate corruption, which could lead America down the destructive path once walked by Europe. I knew she watched Fox News. I had no illusions she would get accurate information elsewhere, but at least she could hear an informed perspective from her own son.

When 2015 came around, I started getting harassed by racist, Trump-supporting trolls on social media. Twitter is not a hospitable place for many groups of people, including Jewish folks like me who are outspoken about the Holocaust and its warnings. I’d send screenshots of this harassment to my mom. They’d send swastikas and pictures of me in gas chambers. “When Trump is elected, you’re finished,” they’d tweet.

My mom wasn’t particularly observant, but she grew up raised by a Jewish aunt and uncle. I figured if reasoned historical perspective backed up by research didn’t move her, maybe direct threats to her son might. She would express concern for me personally, but ignore my pleas not to support the candidate that inspired the abusive bigots who regularly sent hate in my direction.

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Not long after the 2016 election, my mother informed me that she voted for Trump. I exploded. I told her she’d given in to ignorance and bigotry and that she’d callously ignored my warnings. I immediately regretted losing my temper. Despite having a deep sense of sadness, frustration, and anger about what might come next for America, I sent my mom emails apologizing profusely.

I mean, she’s still my mom.

She answered my calls, letters, and social media messages with stony silence.

So now I’m out in the world trying to make it as a historian without my mother’s blessings or support. It’s not easy out there. Perhaps my mom was right when she derided my career choice. Turns out, job openings in my field have been cut in half since I started graduate school a decade ago. In a very real way, we can watch Americans turn away from history. Of course, at parties I’d always be told that my work on American businessmen and their collaboration with the Nazi regime was terribly relevant. I regret to say that I carry the debts of this labor without a job to show for it. This relevance hasn’t panned out in Trump’s America. I suppose none of us, including me, should be surprised.

I always hope maybe my mom will see something I’ve written and answer – maybe her reply would replace the sneering, dismissive, voice I hear on repeat in my head. This is the first time I’ve addressed her directly in public, so I’ll just say this:

Hi Mom. I hope you’re well and taking care of yourself. I’m hanging in there. You raised a resilient adult as many of us have to be these days. I hoped we wouldn’t have to learn the lessons of history so acutely, but I still hope for the best while I prepare for the worst. I hope one day you’ll see Trumpism as a destructive force; even if you only consider its damage on our own family. Your son misses you. America misses you, too.

Love,

Jay

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