Last week, a Tennessee school board voted unanimously to ban Maus, the Pulitzer-winning graphic novel about the Holocaust, citing instances of profanity and nudity. Specifically, the McMinn County school board objected to utterances of the words “God damn” and a small, barely-perceptible breast. (Look closely, and you may eventually find it.) Rather uncomfortably, the banning came on the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and it figures into a larger right-leaning effort to ban books countrywide.
Happily, bad decisions can have good unintended consequences. In recent days, Art Spiegelman’s Maus has soared to #1 on Amazon’s bestseller list. (Another edition of the book sits at #3 on the list.) Elsewhere, a college professor has created a free online course on Maus designed solely for students from McMinn County. And within Tennessee itself, bookstores are giving away free copies of Spiegelman’s classic, while a church has decided to convene conversations on the groundbreaking book.
Above, you can watch Spiegelman respond to the ban and wonder whether it’s “a harbinger of things to come,” a step in a larger effort to efface the memory of the Holocaust.
How Art Spiegelman Designs Comic Books: A Breakdown of His Masterpiece, Maus
Artist is Creating a Parthenon Made of 100,000 Banned Books: A Monument to Democracy & Intellectual Freedom
The 850 Books a Texas Lawmaker Wants to Ban Because They Could Make Students Feel Uncomfortable
America’s First Banned Book: Discover the 1637 Book That Mocked the Puritans
A similar situation we had in Mexico some years ago. A poorly educated politician (the Secretary of Home Affairs!) tried to ban Carlos Fuentes’s classic novella Aura, because a middle school teacher had her students read it (one of the pupils was HIS daughter). The affair was widely aired in the news and the ban didn’t proceed. He made a fool of himself and the book topped the lists for weeks.
There are so many stupid takes on this, of course CNN is trying to make it look like “those evil Southerners are banning a book about the Holocaust”
They banned it because Maus isn’t a children’s book. Spiegleman himself has said in the past that he considered giving it to young children to be a form of abuse. Elementary school kids aren’t going to understand it because it’s written on an adult level. Put it in high school or college libraries sure, but it’s wasted space at elementary schools.
I’m confused by the conflation of “removed from curriculum” to “banned” by every source I read. These aren’t the same thing, and I’m under the impression that it’s not “banned” but they’re just not going to teach it anymore, presumably to be replaced by something they see as more appropriate, maybe Night by Elie Wiesel. Can someone tell me if I have this wrong? Words are important.
This story is a lie. The truth is a school board found that the book was age inappropriate for 8th graders due to its subject matter and removed it from a SINGLE reading list. The book has not been banned, it has not been removed from any libraries, and students can still get their hands on it.
But of course that doesn’t matter one bit to the left wing propagandists. After all, “Hillbillys Ban Holocaust Book” is a much juicier headline than the truth.
On International Holocaust Remembrance Day, no less.
For the record, I’ve read the book and it is extraordinary. I highly recommend it.
Something similar worked in the last 50s to get all the highschool kids to read Payton Place, a bit of literary fluff. I didn’t bother, because I was already reading about the childdren and grandchildren of Medici Pope’s and later about what Alexander the Great’s soldiers did to while away the evenings on their long march to India and China.