You might remember the graphic novel Maus, Art Spiegelman, a required reading list from middle school or high school. Maus portrays Spiegelman’s father, Vladek, and his time in a concentration camp during the Holocaust.
Given its graphic novel form, Germans are drawn as cats, Jews are drawn as mice, and Poles are drawn as pigs.
Recently, Maus was banned by a Tennessee school board from the program due to mild profanity and nudity (cartoon animal).
The novel contains profanity – eight words in the entire novel – but the words are nothing a student in the school has ever heard from another student or from a house before. Profanity also plays an important role in the novel as it reflects a personal story about Vladek’s experience in the Holocaust.
As for animal nudity, the specific signs shown on various online sources recall Jews lined up before being taken to the gas chambers of one of the main concentration camps, Auschwitz.
If you look at the panel, the nudity is not so vulgar and again, reminiscent of real events. If anything, the panel shows a very PG version of the real thing.
According to members of the Tennessee school board, the book is banned because they do not believe the board and schools should promote the nature of the deaths that occurred during this time, even though the books reflect an actual event in history.
It’s like the school board is trying to explain how drastic the Holocaust and the nature of the deaths is, which isn’t fair because if they don’t use Maus, a graphic novel with mice , to teach the Holocaust, they will not use documentaries, images or other books such as Night or Survival in Auschwitz.
Spiegelman, author of Maus, doesn’t believe the ban is motivated by anti-Semitism, but thinks the ban is meant to teach a version of the Holocaust that doesn’t reflect the intensity of the events as they unfolded. actually produced.
If you take a look at the minutes of the school board meeting, it is obvious that an educational supervisor (J. Goodin) within the school board pushed for Maus to be in the program because he teaches about the Holocaust and that it is, without a doubt, something that must be taught in schools and Maus is the first step in achieving this.
As the board members continued to debate Maus’ presence in the program, two senior board members continued to debate the issue by bringing up Spiegelman’s past work (he was a cartoonist for Playboy) and justifying their past sins in removing the book. from the hands of school students.
That’s not reason enough to remove a vital part of the story because again, if they don’t teach Maus, they certainly won’t teach the dramatic reality of what the Holocaust was.
Whether or not you think Maus should be banned from school in Tennessee, students should read it. It shows readers a new side to the Holocaust, and it makes it easier for young readers to understand the gravity of the historic event and exactly why the book shouldn’t be banned. This aspect of education and history should not continue to be suppressed.
Two copies of Maus are available at checkout at the Lane Library on the Armstrong campus.