Archive for January 27th, 2022


Maus -Art Spiegelman

Thou shalt not be a victim, thou shalt not be a perpetrator, but, above all, thou shalt not be a bystander.

― Yehuda Bauer, Israeli Historian and Holocaust scholar

In a week when I write about current spate of book banning, it should come as no surprise that the news came out yesterday that a school board in McMinn County, Tennessee voted unanimously, 10-0, to ban the book Maus from its school libraries.

Maus is a graphic novel written and illustrated by American cartoonist Art Spiegelman. It details the experiences of his father, a Polish Jew and Holocaust survivor, during World War II. Employing an Animal Farm style of metaphoric storytelling, it depicts the Jews as mice, the Germans as cats, and other nationalities as a variety of other animals. Widely praised and banned in many countries under repressive regimes, it is the only graphic novel to ever win the Pulitzer Prize.

As small minded and dangerous as this school board’s decision was, there is also added callousness and insult in the action as it was done on the eve of today’s International Holocaust Remembrance Day, a day of dedicated to the memory of the millions of victims murdered at the hands of the Nazis during World War II.

Did they choose to do so on this day for a reason? Or was this simply a case of sheer ignorance of the timing?

I tend to lean towards ignorance– they are banning books, after all— but even if they were aware, I doubt it would alter their timing or their decision. They are simply part of a movement that seeks to erase history that they find uncomfortable or that might make their kids think.

I take no pleasure in writing about this subject and realize many of you who do read would prefer that I talk about art or music or anything other than a subject as uncomfortable as this. But we are at a time when these types of acts are rapidly stacking up and to avert our eyes now is to signal a sort of acceptance of these actions and the hatred, ignorance, and darkness that drives them.

On this day of remembrance, please do not look away. Pray that it should never happen again to any people anywhere. But unless we educate ourselves and our children to the possibility, it may very well occur once again.

Our silence normalizes atrocity. Callous ignorance breeds it anew.

Now is not a time for bystanders.

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