‘Maus’ Hysteria Distracts from the Left’s Own Censorship

Fascism allegedly reared its ugly head in America last month. In an act that may go down as the beginning of America banning literacy, the McMinn County (Tennessee) School Board dropped the Holocaust-themed graphic novel Maus from its 8th-grade reading curriculum.

Yes, this inconsequential act became one of the biggest news stories in the country. Media outlets covered it like the entire South had just forbidden all kids from ever reading Maus. Journalists pulled its author, Art Spiegelman, on primetime television to denounce the powers-that-be in McMinn County. The incident was held up as proof that the real cancel culture comes from the Right. The Left would apparently never ban books.

The outrage is ridiculous. Even though all the coverage centers around how McMinn County “banned” the book, the school board did no such thing. The board merely dropped it from its 8th-grade curriculum. The reason was fairly harmless. The officials thought the book—which features profanity, violence, and some nudity–—wasn’t appropriate for 8th graders. That’s a debatable claim, but it’s not Orwellian. It’s not like the school board wanted to ban the book to prevent their kids from learning about the Holocaust. Nor will the school prevent students from reading the easy-to-find book on their own. 

In other words, what McMinn County school trustees did is not a ban at all. It’s just a local school decision. 

You would think McMinn County is the epicenter of American cultural life based on the coverage. In reality, McMinn is a rural county where the average income is lower than the national average. A little more than 50,000 people live in the East Tennessee county. 

So why was a minor curriculum decision a national crisis for a week? Because liberals want to shift attention away from their own indoctrination model in schools. 

For over a year, conservative media has exposed critical race theory’s influence in schools. Teachers and officials aim to brainwash kids into believing white students are inferior based on skin color and must hate themselves for being white. The lesson plans teach students how benign concepts like “colorblindness” are actually racist and should be banished from their thinking. It also teaches that America’s founders were evil white supremacists and, therefore, to denounce our national symbols as racist.

Most importantly for this discussion, the CRT mindset has resulted in the erasure of numerous books from school curricula. These works include such American classics as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and To Kill a Mockingbird. Both books were targeted because they contained the n-word. To Kill a Mockingbird is explicitly anti-racist and puts the word in the mouths of the book’s villains. But that is too much for kids, according to the school districts that banned these works.

These “bans” aren’t just isolated incidents. At the same time the powerful McMinn County board removed Maus, a suburban district of Seattle dropped To Kill a Mockingbird. Since that school district used woke reasoning to drop it (administrators claimed it could “traumatize” black students), the media wasn’t outraged by it. It’s too much for nonwhite high school students to read an anti-racist book that may contain the n-word, but all 8th graders must read a violent graphic novel about the Holocaust. That’s the new standard here.

The entire Western canon could be on the chopping block in public education. Several teachers and academics have urged the removal of Shakespeare, Homer, and other Western luminaries because they’re too white. Only “diverse” authors can be assigned to students.

It’s also in the realm of possibility that liberals will start organizing book burnings. They’ve already done so in Canada. A school district in Quebec organized a “flame purification” in 2019 against more than 4,700 children’s books “that had outdated content and carried negative stereotypes about First Nations, Métis and Inuit people.” Officials were proud of their work. “We bury the ashes of racism, discrimination and stereotypes in the hope that we will grow up in an inclusive country where all can live in prosperity and security,” declared a video produced for students of the burning. 

While liberals celebrated Maus becoming an Amazon bestseller during this manufactured crisis, the  very same online merchant that bans a great number of books at the behest of liberals. Any book that is found to be offensive is demanded for removal. Recent examples of banned books include ones that criticize gender ideology and COVID hysteria. Meanwhile, the allegedly banned Maus is available at nearly every bookstore and library in the country.

This wave of censorship is a much bigger deal than one rural county’s curriculum. The liberal censors don’t just want to drop books because they’re inappropriate for 13-year-olds. They want to eliminate them because they can’t stand “whiteness.” It’s an argument that carries weight in America’s most powerful institutions. Hollywood imposes racial quotas to combat the menace of white supremacy. Colleges make kids check their white privilege to combat white supremacy. Our transportation secretary vows to remove white supremacy from our roads and bridges. Yes, even inanimate objects can be guilty of white supremacy. 

The uproar over Maus is hyperbolic to say the least. Liberals are fixated on it in order to pretend that they are still the rebels fighting against the man. The problem here is that the rebels are the Democratic-Media Complex and the “man” is a rural school board in Tennessee. The disparity in power is apparent to anyone with two eyes and a brain. 

The real censors are the liberals up in arms. They just lack the self-awareness to know it.

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About Paul Bradford

Paul Bradford is a Capitol Hill refugee now earning an honest living.

Photo: "Maus" by Art Spiegelman (Photo by Maro Siranosian/AFP via Getty Images)