A Tennessee school board recently voted unanimously to ban a Pulitzer Prize-winning book about the experiences of Holocaust survivors due to "rough, objectionable language" and a drawing of a nude woman.
The McMinn County School Board voted 10-0 in a Jan. 10 meeting to remove "Maus" from its eighth-grade English language arts curriculum.
The vote followed discussion among board members and instructional supervisors about the book's content and how best to teach students about the Holocaust.
Arguments centered around what is age appropriate and what reflects the values of the district and the community, the Tennessean reported.
"Maus" is a graphic novel by comic artist Art Spiegelman that follows his Jewish parents in 1940s Poland from their early experiences of antisemitism to their internment in Auschwitz, CNN said.
The novel, intercut with the young author's attempts to coax the story out of his father as an old man, depicts Jewish people as mice and Nazis as cats.
The book was published in 1986, and Spiegelman was awarded a Pulitzer for it in 1992.
Eight "curse words" and the nude drawing were at the forefront of the concerns over the book, according to the board minutes.
"The values of the county are understood," McMinn County Director of Schools Lee Parkison said during the meeting. "There is some rough, objectionable language in this book."
Board member Tony Allman said he was concerned about scenes in the book where mice were hung from trees and children were killed. The book also depicts suicide.
"Why does the educational system promote this kind of stuff?" he said. "It is not wise or healthy."
One teacher said that she believed the book represents the brutality of the Holocaust.
"There is nothing pretty about the Holocaust, and for me, this was a great way to depict a horrific time in history," instructional supervisor and former history teacher Julie Goodin said.
Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., released a statement condemning the board's decision, calling it reminiscent of the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial, which centered on a young high school teacher accused of violating state law by teaching evolution.
"The unanimous decision of the McMinn County School Board to ban the graphic novel 'Maus' from its curriculum is another unfortunate and embarrassing example of close-mindedness," Cohen, who is Jewish, said in a statement.
"Art Spiegelman's novel opens minds to the history of the Nazi genocide we're remembering on today's anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps in 1945. I look forward to seeing the school board decision reversed."
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