THE MISGUIDED REASONING FOR BANNING “MAUS”
By Daphna Rosenberg
Maus, written by Art Spiegelman, describes his parents’ experience in the Holocaust in a graphic novel. The Jews are depicted as mice and the Nazis as cats. Though the intensity of this graphic novel may be overwhelming, it is an important resource for teaching tweens and teens about the horrors of the Holocaust. By depicting people as cartoon characters, it heightens the evil motives of the Nazis and furthers the message that the injustices inflicted on the Jews will remain unforgettable. On Jan 10, 2022, the McMinn County School Board in Tennessee voted to ban Maus from its school library with a unanimous vote of 10-0. The Tennessee school board claimed to ban the book because it contains nudity, violence, and strong language.
The author, Art Spiegelman, told CNBC he was “baffled” by the decision. The Jewish people should be baffled and infuriated as well. Many suspect the decision to ban the book by the members of the school board of McMinn County School was motivated less by inappropriate content and more by the content of the book, which tells the story of Spiegelman’s parents in the Nazi concentration camps, the genocide of millions of Jews, his relationship with his father, and his mother’s suicide. The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Anti-Defamation League, the NAACP, and other groups have criticized the ban with the same reasoning, saying that the book has a very important role – teaching young students about the Holocaust.
Ultimately, shielding students from the violent parts of history is not an option, especially in this case. Primarily in Jewish schools, teaching the Holocaust is a given, being that it is a crucial part of Jewish history. Because there are so many deniers of the Holocaust, it is imperative that everyone, Jewish or non-Jewish, learns about the travesties of the Holocaust. When school boards and local governments continue to prioritize personal comfort over the education of their students, the awareness and remembrance of events such as the Holocaust will cease to exist.
Kreps, Daniel. “Tennessee School Board Stands by Decision to Ban 'Maus' despite Community Uproar.” Rolling Stone, Rolling Stone, 12 Feb. 2022, https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-news/tennessee-school-board-maus-ban-community-uproar-1299313/.
DanMangan. “'Maus' Is an Amazon Bestseller after Tennessee School Ban – Author Art Spiegelman Compares Board to Putin.” CNBC, CNBC, 29 Jan. 2022, https://www.cnbc.com/2022/01/28/maus-amazon-bestseller-after-tennessee-school-ban.ht