US School Bans Pulitzer Prize-Winning Holocaust Novel Maus

28 January 2022 ❤ 3
US School Bans Pulitzer Prize-Winning Holocaust Novel Maus

A school board in Tennessee has added to an increasein book bans by conservatives with an instructionto remove the award-winning 1986 graphic novel on the Holocaust, "Maus," from local student libraries.

Author Art Spiegelman told CNN Thursday -- coincidentally International Holocaust Remembrance Day -- that the ban of his book for crude language was "myopic" and represents a "bigger and stupider" problem.

The ban, decided by the McMinn County Board of Education in eastern Tennessee on January 10, causeda national uproar among advocates of literary freedom after it became public knowledgein the past few days.

"Maus" was highly acclaimed when it was published as a compilation of Spiegelman's serialized tale of the experiences of his father, a Polish Jew, with the Nazis and in a concentration camp during the Holocaust.

The book, which portrayscharacters in the story as animals -- Jews are mice and Germans are cats -- won a Pulitzer Prize and other awards, and was accepted in many secondary schools as a strong and accurate depiction of the Nazi Germany.

The ban by the McMinn County school authority though focused on the use of eight crude words like "damn" and "bitch" and one scene of nudity, which some parents said were inappropriate for schoolchildren.

"There is some rough, objectionable language in this book," said school board director Lee Parkison, who proposed just redacting those parts of the book.

But others argued that, while teaching teens about the Holocaust was necessary, a different outlookwas required.

"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," asked board member Tony Allman.

Others havedefended the book. However they recognisethe potentiallegal challenges over copyright and censorship that redacting the book could bring, and voted with their opponents to remove it from local school libraries altogether.

"They are totally focused on some bad words that are in the book.... I can't believe that," Spiegelman quoted inCNN from his home in Switzerland.

The US Holocaust Museum, which documents the Nazi atrocities against Jews, strongly questioned the ban.

"Teaching about the Holocaust using books like 'Maus' can inspire students to think critically about the past and their own roles and responsibilities today," it said in a statement.

Jewish groups were similarly critical.

"Given the pronounced lack of knowledge about the Holocaust in the US, especially among younger Americans, a Tennessee school board decision to ban Maus ... is beyond comprehension," said David Harris, the chief executive of the American Jewish Committee.

By F. Aslam

Have a comment or QA?
Comments and QA