A Tennessee school board voted to pull the Pulitzer Prize winning graphic novel “Maus,” from its 8th grade curriculum earlier this month because its depiction of the Holocaust contained language and images it found offensive.
The Wall Street Journal reports:
“Maus,” Art Spiegelman’s 300-page graphic novel in which Nazis are depicted as cats and Jews as mice, received a special Pulitzer Prize in 1992. Published in two volumes in 1986 and 1991, it recounts the experiences of Mr. Spiegelman’s parents in Nazi-occupied Poland and later at Auschwitz.
The McMinn County Board of Education voted unanimously on January 10th to ban the book, citing eight instances of profanity and one image of a nude woman.
“The nude image depicted the dead body of Spiegelman’s mother, who took her own life in 1968 at age 56,” reports NBC News.
The outlet adds:
One board member, Jonathan Pierce, described himself as “probably the biggest sinner and crudest person in this room,” but said the book didn’t meet his “standard,” which he described as: “Can I lay that in front of a child.”
“The wording in this book is in direct conflict of some of our policies,” he said.
The Guardian reports
Board member Tony Allman supported the move to remove the “vulgar and inappropriate” content, arguing: “We don’t need to enable or somewhat promote this stuff.”
“I am not denying it was horrible, brutal, and cruel,” Allman said in reference to the genocide and murder of six million European Jews during the second world war.
“It shows people hanging, it shows them killing kids, why does the educational system promote this kind of stuff? It is not wise or healthy,” he added.
Allman also took aim at Spiegelman himself, alleging: “I may be wrong, but this guy that created the artwork used to do the graphics for Playboy.”
“You can look at his history, and we’re letting him do graphics in books for students in elementary school. If I had a child in the eighth grade, this ain’t happening. If I had to move him out and homeschool him or put him somewhere else, this is not happening.”
In an interview with CNBC, Spiegelman, now 73, called the board’s decision “Orwellian.”
“I’m kind of baffled by this,” he said, adding “It’s leaving me with my jaw open, like, ‘What?’
January 27th is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. On Wednesday night, the U.S. Holocaust Museum tweeted “Maus has played a vital role in educating about the Holocaust through sharing detailed and personal experiences of victims and survivors. On the eve of International #HolocaustRemembranceDay, it is more important than ever for students to learn this history.”
The Journal adds:
The school board’s move comes amid a flurry of decisions across the U.S. to pull books from library shelves following directives from state elected officials or challenges from parents that the texts, which often focus on race and gender themes, are inappropriate for students.
Tennessee is among at least 12 states—including Texas, New Hampshire and Idaho—that have recently passed laws or issued rules that define how schools and colleges can teach such subjects.