A Tennessee school board earlier this month unanimously voted to ban “Maus,” a Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel about the Holocaust, from its curriculum, The New York Times reports.
The McMinn County Board of Education on January 10 voted 10-0 to remove the book from its eighth-grade curriculum.
The book, which depicts Jews as mice and Nazis as cats, was written by Art Spiegelman as a story of his own parents’ experience during the Holocaust.
The board said the book contained eight instances of profanity and an image of a nude woman.
“There is some rough, objectionable language in this book,” Lee Parkison, the director of schools for McMinn County, said at the meeting.
“We don’t need this stuff to teach kids history,” said board member Mike Cochran. “We can teach them history and we can teach them graphic history. We can tell them exactly what happened, but we don’t need all the nakedness and all the other stuff.”
“I’m kind of baffled by this,” Spiegelman told CNBC on Wednesday. “It’s leaving me with my jaw open, like, ‘What?’”
Spiegelman called the decision “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.”
Rep. Steve Cohen, Tennessee’s first Jewish congressman, slammed the decision on Thursday.
“It’s depressing to see this happen anywhere in the country, and when it comes to censoring an easy way to reach children and teach them about the Holocaust, it’s particularly disturbing,” he said.
The US Holocaust Museum said that “teaching about the Holocaust using books like Maus can inspire students to think critically about the past and their own roles and responsibilities today.”