The Australian youth magazine Happy spoke with cartoonist Art Spiegelman at a local convention, and he still seems oblivious to valid queries whether his own side of the political spectrum has anything to do with Maus getting banished from Tennessee school libraries:
Spiegelman went on to share what he thought were a few of the main reasons the Tennessee Board of Education wanted Maus banned.
Firstly, to keep children in a position of powerlessness, lest they ever think it’s okay to question authority or to question or stand up to their parents in any way.
Second, he sees it as a push for parents to take their children out of public schools and re-enroll their children in Christian schools. Where there’s less chance of reading books or other material that they consider unsafe or unchristian.
And thirdly, to Christianise Auschwitz, much in the way he thinks they did with Schindler’s List. Because let’s face it, Maus is an eye-opener if there ever was one, with first-hand stories taken from real-life conversations with Spiegelman’s father, making for a very compelling, astonishing, and deeply moving work of art, as much as it was when it was first published in 1980.
Oh, good grief. So he believes Christianity – and only Christianity – is responsible for this unfortunate ban on his book at the Tennessee schools?
Let’s be clear. Nobody’s saying religion’s incapable of leading to embarrassments like this one, or that it never did. But if Spiegelman were serious, he’d recognize secular-minded liberals can perform censorship too, for very un-altruistic reasons, and does he think it’s okay if children grow up to be vulgar? That’s practically what led to the prevailing mentality during WW2 and the Holocaust. If there’s no education provided on why it pays to be polite and good natured, it is any wonder there’s bound to be a lack of respect for human life somewhere around the corner?
In addition, if Spiegelman believes children should be allowed to question authority, does he also believe they should be allowed to question the left-wing takes on authority? Same with left-leaning parents who could have questionable MOs. These queries go unanswered in these discussions with him.
So how can we be certain Spiegelman’s a realist if he won’t question his own side of the political spectrum? If he thinks only Christianity’s the problem, then he’s missing some much bigger boats sailing around out there, including what happened with a few of Dr. Seuss’ classic tales last year. As a result, some could wonder if all Spiegelman really cares about is his own writings and art, and not anybody else’s.
Originally published here.