A Tennessee school board barred schools from teaching a beloved graphic novel about the Holocaust in an unanimous vote the day before Holocaust Remembrance Day.
The move to ban Art Spiegelman’s Maus, first reported by The Tennessee Holler, is the latest in a wave of book banning sweeping the country, particularly school districts in conservative areas.
The McMinn County school board’s 10 members voted to axe Maus from curricula and school libraries, citing its use of the phrase “God Damn” and its drawings of “naked pictures,” though those are cartoon mice.
School members said the ban was not related to the book’s depiction of the Holocaust as it tells the story of author Spiegelman’s father in German concentration camps, with Jews depicted as mice and Nazis as cats. Serialized over nearly a decade, it was collected in a book that in 1992 became the first, and so far the only, graphic novel to win the Pulitzer Prize.
Asked for comment on Wednesday evening, Spiegelman sent The Daily Beast a bookmark he previously designed for Banned Books Week:
“I'm trying to be tolerant to people who possibly may not be Nazis, maybe," Spiegelman said in a subsequent CNN interview.
“Because having read the transcript of the school board meeting, the problem is sort of bigger and stupider than that. They really genuinely focus… on some bad words, like “damn,” he said. “So I'm trying to wrap my brain around it.”
Hours after that, the school board released a statement explaining that the book about the Holocaust’s “unnecessary use of profanity and nudity and its depictions of violence and suicide” made it “simply too adult-oriented for use in our schools.”