McMinn county, Tennessee was in the news late last evening and will probably make it today. If one is a devotee of the left, McMinn’s school board is composed of knuckle-dragging Neanderthals and anti-Semite book-burners. The reality is quite different.
McMinn County has a total population That wouldn’t fill a baseball stadium but it became a lighting-rod on Wednesday, when its school board voted to remove one book from the 8th grade language arts curriculum.
The book, titled, “Maus,” is a serialized graphic novel. “Graphic novel” is another way of not calling a 296-page comic book a comic book. Its subject is the Holocaust, and it’s illustrated with animal metaphors. Jews are mice (hence the title), Germans and French are cats respectively. The author of “Maus” is Art Spiegelman. “Maus” is told as an interview with Spiegelman’s father (a Polish Jew) who survived the Holocaust. This 1980s novel tells the Holocaust story using heavy-line cartoon imagery. The novel was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize special award in 1992.
When The school board in McMinn County removed “Maus” from the 8thThe grade reading list should not have been changed by a rural school board. Frankly I am surprised That “Maus” was part of reading material for any 8th grade language arts course. This course is more suitable for college or high school.
Somebody must have alerted them to the fact that a non-story from the local area was quickly turned into a major news story. CNBC called it a book “banning.” The headline blared:
“Tennessee school board bans Holocaust graphic novel ‘Maus’ – author Art Spiegelman condemns the move as ‘Orwellian’ “
Spiegelman quotes Spiegelman as saying:
“I’m kind of baffled by this,” Art Spiegelman, the author of “Maus,” told CNBC in an interview about the unanimous vote by the McMinn board to bar the book, which is about his parents, from continuing to be used in the curriculum. “It’s leaving me with my jaw open, like, ‘What?’”
Except, that isn’t what happened. The book isn’t banned. Maus was removed form a reading list after complaints from the board about the use of curse words and the depiction nudity.Th graders. “Maus” wasn’t even banned from The school library. Copies weren’t torched, and it wasn’t banned because it’s about the Holocaust.
Also the school board’s vote was taken on January 10th. This was over two weeks ago. The vote didn’t come to light until the night of January 26th. January 27ThHolocaust Remembrance Day. This timing was deliberate. This was how it was planned. Someone wanted to time this to embarrass McMinn County and to frame this as something like: “Local Tennessee knuckle-draggers ban Jewish book on Holocaust Remembrance Day.”. It’s pathetic, obvious, and a lie.
By example, the place where all sense of reality goes to die (Twitter) was ablaze with the “ban” lie.
One kind of person would vote to ban Maus. https://t.co/fs1Jl62Qd8
— Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) January 26, 2022
Note the language: “Just voted” and “banned.” Both are lies. Neil Gaiman suggests that McMinn’s school board is controlled by Nazis.
“Maus” is an interesting work of art that uses cartoons and text to make a valid point. As a former parent of 8 children, I am a avid cartoonist and reader.Th grade, I don’t think “Maus” is the best literary source to tell the story of the Holocaust — whether as history or as language art. As a parent, would I have opposed its use? Probably not, but McMinn County made the call to remove it from one grade’s curriculum, as age inappropriate. It did that. It didn’t ban Spiegelman’s graphic novel.
But a good and useful lie was launched, and McMinn became a lightning-rod for the left and the “twitterverse.”
Never waste a good story.