Book banning is a wickedly cruel and cowardly thing to do. In an era when the words “free speech” are weaponized to defend even the grossest ideas (racism, sexism, antisemitism, take the red pill, etc.), it seems particularly insidious and hypocritical that anyone from the right would advocate for censorship by removing books from libraries. And yet here we are.
In Texas, Republican lawmakers created a list of 850 books to remove from school classrooms and library shelves because they feel that these books will corrupt children. One book, in particular, has become a symbol of the oppressive use of censorship by the right and has sparked a national backlash that has led to a surge in book sales, making it impossible to find.
“I hate it that Americans are taught to fear some books and some ideas as though they were diseases.”
— Kurt Vonnegut
The book is called ‘Maus’ by Art Spiegelman. It is a graphic novel that tells a story within a story. The events in the book are true and real, however horrifying and brutal to accept as a reader they may be. The terrible historical events in the Maus series might be why the author chose to present the book as a graphic novel in which Jews are mice, Germans are cats, and other groups of people are turned into other groups of animals. So, what is the story? Spiegelman interviewed his father, Vladek, about his experiences surviving death camps as a Polish Jew during the Holocaust. The graphic novel weaves together biography, history, art, and fiction in a seamless and breathtaking work that may be difficult to sit with given its content. Still, it is critically important for the world to read this and other stories; especially kids. In a time when two-thirds of Americans don’t know what the Holocaust is or don’t believe it happened, a book like Maus is urgent reading.
“Yes, books are dangerous. They should be dangerous — they contain ideas.”
― Pete Hautman
But while Texas is busy ripping books off of shelves and telling teachers to balance the Holocaust with “perspective” from “all sides,” many who feel obliged to act in defiance of Texas lawmakers are busy snapping up copies of the book, making it difficult to find. As a writer, I love and fully support buying books for any reason. But what worries me is that while the intent to support books like Maus is needed and is essential, many of the people who are buying the…