Librarians, members of the Jewish community and more asked the McMinn County Board of Education to reconsider their unanimous decision to remove Maus from the curriculum. Despite the nationwide uproar following the ban — as well as the criticism from Maus author Art Spiegelman — the school board refused to reconsider, reiterating that the graphic novel was not banned due to its subject matter but instead over its explicit language and one drawing of a nude dead mouse.
“I want people to understand that this had nothing to do with the Holocaust on why we took it out,” board member Mike Cochran told the school board meeting, the Associated Press reports. Cochran added of Maus, “There’s nudity that’s not necessary.”
Spiegelman previously told CNN he was disappointed and baffled by the school board’s decision. “I moved past total bafflement to trying to be tolerant of people who may possibly not be Nazis, maybe,” Spiegelman said, adding that — upon reading the minutes of the McMinn County Board of Education meeting — he was surprised Maus was banned over its language. “Dammit I can’t believe the word ‘Damn’ would get the book jettisoned out of schools on its own, but that’s really where the genuine focus seemed to be.” He also called the school board’s decision “daffily myopic.”
Earlier in the week, Spiegelman held a virtual discussion hosted by the Jewish Federation of Greater Chattanooga to discuss the school board’s ban of Maus, a decision he likened to authoritarianism.
“It’s certainly about Jews, but it’s not just about Jews,” Spiegelman said (via the Associated Press). “This is about othering and what’s going on now is about controlling … what kids can look at, what kids can read, what kids can see in a way that makes them less able to think, not more. And it takes the form of the criticisms from this board.”
In the aftermath of the McMinn County Board of Education’s Maus ban, booksellers have offered to donate free copies of the graphic novel to Tennessee students, and sales of Maus have skyrocketed online, with two editions of the book entering onto Amazon’s Top 20 sales chart in the weeks after the ban; prior to the controversy, Maus wasn’t even in the top 1000.