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Online Sales of ‘Maus’ Have Skyrocketed Following the School Board Ban

Earlier this week, a Tennessee school board voted unanimously to remove the Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel Maus from the classroom. The board said that the book contained material that wasn’t appropriate students, which is to be expected in a book about the Holocaust. The board’s decision sent shockwaves throughout the country and set off a conversation about the appropriate ways to teach kids about historic evils.

“There is some rough, objectionable language in this book,” said Lee Parkison, the director of schools for McMinn County, according to minutes of the meeting. The book is by Art Spiegelman and tells the true story of him learning about the horrors his father witnessed as a Jew in Germany during World War II. In the book, Jewish people are depicted as mice and German Nazis are cats. The school board objected to the book being part of eight grade curriculum on account of several curse words and a drawing of naked mice in Auschwitz.

The school board probably didn’t intend to make Maus more popular, but the outrage over their decision went an unexpected direction. On Thursday, Maus was #1,945 on Amazon’s bestseller list. As of this writing, it’s #23 and climbing, clinching the very top spot in several categories. This comes as the Anti-Defamation League is sounding the alarm about a rise in anti-semitism in the U.S., as well as a movement to ban books about the U.S. history of racism.

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As it just so happens, Thursday was Holocaust Remembrance Day, and Spiegelman told the New York Times that he was baffled that a school board would want to sanitize the ugly realities of one of the ugliest chapters in modern world history for a classroom. “This is disturbing imagery,” he said. “But you know what? It’s disturbing history.”

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