How Removing “Maus” Hurts Tennessee Students

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  • Steve Morris is a retired dentist from New York. He lives in Nashville and is a frequent contributor of guest letters and essays.

On January 27, we Jews of Nashville celebrated with our wonderful Christian supporters International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

This national holiday celebrates the 77th anniversary of the American liberation of Auschwitz, the infamous World War II Nazi concentration camp.

To put this specific tragedy in proper perspective, of the 6 million Jews murdered in the Holocaust, the 1.5 million Jews systematically arrested and gassed at Auschwitz equals every man, woman and child in Nashville and Memphis combined.

As an 80-year-old Jew living in Nashville for six years, I realized how lucky we are to have the unwavering support of Nashville’s amazing Christian community.

However, I have just received the most outrageous, callous, and totally inappropriate act perpetrated by a local school board in Tennessee against Nashville’s 25,000 Jewish residents.

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What is the real reason behind the removal of “Maus”?

First, a bit of context:

“Maus,” is Art Spiegelman’s 1992 Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel in which he describes his father’s Holocaust experience.

France's Chief Rabbi Haim Korsia blows a horn to pay tribute to the International Monument to the Victims of Fascism at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum of the former German Nazi concentration and extermination camp in Oswiecim, Poland on January 27 2022, on the International Holocaust Remembrance Day marking the 77th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

It was a centerpiece of the McMinn County School of Tennessee’s celebration of the holiday for their eighth grade English language arts education.

Bowing to pressure from some parents who felt the book was too graphic for their children, their school board suddenly banned the graphic book from their month-long Holocaust study.

Why? It was because of the “bad words”, the “nude drawings” and because of its “not wise or wholesome content”.

Or has a subtle form of anti-Semitism surfaced once again in the State of the Volunteers? Somehow, softening or downplaying this horrible, unimaginable tragedy was their favorite description of their censorship.

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What more should you ban?

I ask you all the following:

  • Should we stop showing images of a naked Christ on the cross at Christmas? Of course not.
  • Should we stop showing all the lynchings and violence perpetrated against African-Americans during our slavery history. Of course not.
  • Should we stop showing the 9/11 massacre of 3,000 innocent people at the New York Trade Center because it had no “healthy content”. Of course not.

It is so important that eighth graders receive a realistic depiction of the Holocaust, not a watered down, politically correct fabrication.

Let’s not forget that of the 6 million Jews who lost their lives as most of the civilized world looked the other way, 1.5 million were children, as were eighth graders involved in the ban controversy. books.

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Show students what happens when they are indifferent

Over the past year, studies have shown:

That there has been a drastic increase nationwide (12%) in antisemitic crimes.

According to the Pew Research Center, only 45% knew how many Jews were actually killed during the Holocaust.

Many were surprised by the recent attack on a Beth Israel congregation in Texas during their Shabbat (Saturday Sabbath) service.

Steve Morris

Students need to be shown what happens when they don’t even stand up to the slightest forms of hatred. This is especially true when they themselves are not the specific target of the crimes.

If you want to solve this easy-to-solve controversy over the banning of books? Get representatives from the Nashville Jewish and Christian community, school board, parents, librarians, and representatives from the Nashville Holocaust Memorial Museum.

The meeting should be held at the museum so that the Holocaust exhibits can be viewed by all attendees.

Hopefully a solution can be found as this is not a parental control issue but a realistic portrayal by a Holocaust survivor.

Steve Morris is a retired dentist from New York. He lives in Nashville and is a frequent contributor of guest letters and essays to The Tennessean.

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