Art Spiegelman's Maus: A Survivor's Tale, the Pulitzer prize-winning, historical graphic novel about Auschwitz during the Holocaust, has been banned in Tennessee schools. The school board in Mcminn county was offended by the "objectionable language," including "God damn," as well as a "naked picture" — a cartoon drawing of an undressed mouse.
The ten members of the school board were unanimous in their decision, according to The Guardian, which isn't surprising during a time when many US states in the South no longer allow teachers to discuss racism. Spiegelman, who based the book on his parents' survival of Auschwitz, drawing Holocaust survivors as mice and Nazis as cats, called the school board "Orwellian."
From The Guardian:
The graphic memoir elevated a pulp mass medium to high art when it nabbed a slew of literary awards in 1992 but appears not to have impressed educators in Mcminn county. …
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." …
Mike Cochran, another school board member, described parts of the book as "completely unnecessary". …
Cochran proposed revisiting the entire curriculum over concerns it was developed to "normalise sexuality, normalise nudity and normalise vulgar language."
"If I was trying to indoctrinate somebody's kids, this is how I would do it," he added. "You put this stuff just enough on the edges, so the parents don't catch it but the kids, they soak it in. I think we need to relook at the entire curriculum."
Spiegelman said he was "baffled" by the outcome in an interview with CNBC on Wednesday. "It's leaving me with my jaw open, like, 'What?'" the 73-year-old author said, adding he thought the school board was "Orwellian" for approving the ban.
Here is an interview of Spiegelman in 2011 discussing Maus: