The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Tennessee School Board Bans Books

Feb 14, 2022

The school board of McMinn County, Tennessee, banned the graphic novel Maus by Art Spiegelman. The book, which was being used in eighth-grade curriculum, portrays Jews as mice and Nazis as cats in telling about the experience of the author’s parents, Holocaust survivors, in Nazi Germany. Spiegelman’s mother later committed suicide.

The board said in a statement that it was not against teaching about the Holocaust. The reason for the unanimous, 10–0 vote then? The book’s “unnecessary use of profanity and nudity and its depiction of violence and suicide,” the board said.

Really? As Spiegelman, the book’s author, put it, the board is actually saying, “Why can’t they teach a nicer Holocaust?

The Anti-Defamation League, NAACP and other groups criticized the ban and pointed to the recent rise of violent attacks on Jewish people by extreme-right groups, as well as a broader tendency to ban books that address racism.

In other words, this school board in Tennessee is jumping on the bandwagon of banning books in schools as a way of preventing people from understanding the long, violent history of racism in the world—and especially in this country.