Holding Antisemites Accountable.

Close this search box.

Outrage Ensues After Tennessee School Board Removes Holocaust Graphic Novel

The author of one of America’s most acclaimed Holocaust novels expressed astonishment on Thursday when news broke that his book had been banned from the curriculum of a Tennessee school district.

Art Spiegelman’s graphic novel “Maus” is based on interviews with his father, a Holocaust survivor, and explores both the horrors of the Holocaust and its traumatic aftereffects on survivors and their children. It has been widely acclaimed since it was first published in the 1980s and early 1990s, and won a 1992 Pulitzer Prize.

On Jan. 10, the McMinn County School Board voted unanimously to remove the book from its eighth-grade curriculum. Director of Schools Lee Parkison said that the issues were “rough objectionable language” and a nude depiction of a woman.

McMinn County School Board Members – Bill Irvin, Mike Lowry, Jonathan Pierce, Rob Shamblin, Tony Allman, Lee Parkison Front row: Mike Cochran, Donna Casteel, Sharon Brown, Denise Cunningham, Quinten Howard

At the meeting where the vote was taken, board member Tony Allman said, “We don’t need to enable or somewhat promote this stuff. It shows people hanging, it shows them killing kids, why does the educational system promote this kind of stuff, it is not wise or healthy.”

Assistant Principal Julie Goodin objected, saying, “I was a history teacher and there is nothing pretty about the Holocaust and for me this was a great way to depict a horrific time in history.”

In an interview with CNBC on Wednesday, Spiegelman — who only just learned of the ban — said, “I’m kind of baffled by this. It’s leaving me with my jaw open, like, ‘What?’”

He described the school board’s decision as “Orwellian.”

“I’ve met so many young people who … have learned things from my book,” he said. “I also understand that Tennessee is obviously demented. There’s something going on very, very haywire there.”

Acclaimed comics writer and award-winning graphic novelist Neil Gaiman also weighed in, saying, “There’s only one kind of people who would vote to ban ‘Maus,’ whatever they are calling themselves these days.”