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.