Holocaust Graphic Novel ‘Maus’ Banned by Tennessee School Board

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A day before International Holocaust Remembrance Day, a Tennessee school board voted to ban a Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel about the Holocaust from the curriculum. 

The graphic novel “Maus” is about Polish Jews who survived the holocaust. The author, Art Spiegelman, who is now 73, called the school board “Orwellian” for its actions. Spiegelman said that he was baffled by the ban and that it made his jaw drop. 

Maus tells the story of Spiegelman’s Jewish parents, their time in the Nazi concentration camps, the genocide committed by the Nazis against the Jewish people, his mother’s suicide when he was 20 years old, and his relationship with his father. 

The McMinn County School Board claims that the book is being banned due to concerns about profanity and nudity. But experts say that really the ban is about conservatives targeting curriculums that teach the history of slavery, racism, and genocide. 

Spiegelman said that he believes the unanimous vote has nothing to do with mild curse words, but rather the core subject of the book: the holocaust. 

The school board has since doubled down on its decision, publishing a statement on Twitter that the work was “too adult” for use in schools. 

In Maus, Spiegelman drew different groups of people as different types of animals. Jews are drawn as mice, Poles are drawn as pigs, and the Nazi Germans are cats. 

Tennessee is a widely conservative state. The state has been won by every Republican presidential nominee since 2000. In McMinn County, Trump won in 2020 with nearly 80 percent of the votes. 

January 27 is the international Holocaust Memorial Day. This year marks the 77th anniversary of the liberation of Nazi concentration camps. This year, survivors and experts have issued stark warnings about the resurgence of antisemitism and Holocaust denial. 

The banning of Holocaust books, experts say, helps erase the horrific genocide of the Jewish people by the Nazis, and will only feed into antisemitism.

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