AFP, published on Thursday, January 27, 2022 at 7:52 p.m.
School authorities in a southern US county have banned the acclaimed Holocaust graphic novel ‘Maus’ for its content deemed ‘inappropriate’, another episode in the ongoing school war in conservative US states .
In this book, Art Spiegelman recounts the memories of his Holocaust survivor father, in which the Jews are represented by mice, the Nazis by cats.
Winner of a Pulitzer Prize in 1992, a first for a comic strip, “Maus” has been translated into more than twenty languages.
But its content is “vulgar and inappropriate” for 13-year-old middle schoolers, said the McMinn County School Board in Tennessee, which voted on Jan. 10 to remove it from the curriculum until another book is found. ‘Holocaust.
“There is foul and nasty language in this book,” council director Lee Parkison explained, according to the minutes of the meeting. Eight vulgar words and an image of a naked woman are concerned.
The book “shows people being hanged, people killing children. Why does the education system promote this stuff, it’s not wise so healthy,” said one of the participants.
“We are not against teaching the Holocaust,” he added. “I do not deny that it was horrible, brutal and cruel”.
Other board members defended the book. “It was a good way to portray a terrible period in history”, difficult to teach to children who “don’t even know about 9/11”, said a former history teacher.
Interviewed by CNN on Thursday, Art Spiegelman said he was thrown into “total confusion” before “trying to be tolerant with these people who might not be Nazis” but “who focused on a few rude words”.
As the 77th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau is marked on Thursday, the Holocaust Museum in Washington stressed on its Twitter account that “Maus” played “a vital role” for the Holocaust education “by sharing detailed and personal experiences of victims and survivors”.
The decision comes in a context of questioning of school curricula in conservative states, which attack books dealing with divisive social issues such as racism or gender identity.
Another classic, “Beloved” by African-American Toni Morrison, has recently been the subject of controversy. A college mom from southern Virginia has claimed her high school son had nightmares after reading the book, which tells the story of a former slave girl choosing to kill her child to save him from the atrocities of slavery.