Posted on: February 18, 2022 Posted by: Glacier Staff Comments: 0

Graphic by Sarah Schudt

The American Library Association’s list of banned and challenged books includes many classic novels.

By The Editorial Board

A Tennessee school board recently banned the Pulitzer-prize-winning graphic novel “Maus” by Art Spiegelman a day before it was to be taught in an eighth-grade classroom. The novel is a work of nonfiction that includes interviews Spiegelman conducted with his father. It shows the realities of the Holocaust and life after for its survivors. 

The ban sparked wide controversy and backlash. Ryan Higgins, a comic book store owner, donated copies of the book to any family in Tennessee who wanted them. Other stores gave out copies of the book for free with any purchase, and many bookstores have set up displays of banned books. 

The scary thing is that book banning has become a rising trend in recent years, creating a threat to intellectual freedom. A bill introduced in Oklahoma would prohibit public school libraries from carrying books that pertain to sexuality and gender identity. In December, the state passed a law that allows parents to have any book removed from a school library. And teachers in Oklahoma can be sued if they talk about religious views that oppose those of their students. 

“Maus,” a graphic novel about the Holocaust, was banned recently in a Tennessee school district.

The problem is spreading. Even in Illinois, a bill would require school libraries to provide a list of all their books to parents.

“Parents, activists, school board officials and lawmakers around the country are challenging books at a pace not seen in decades,” The New York Times reports. “The American Library Association said in a preliminary report that it received an ‘unprecedented’ 330 reports of book challenges, each of which can include multiple books, last fall.”

And book banning may just be the beginning. This urge to shield kids from reality could spiral into censoring other forms of media as well, and then the silencing of thoughts.

We must continue to push against these laws. “Maus” is a real account of the life of a Holocaust survivor, and while it has strong language and disturbing imagery, those things were part of the Holocaust itself. To understand the true horrors of history–and to avoid repeating them–children and adults alike must have access to titles like these.

At the college level, students and faculty must continue to foster and deeply engage in conversations about these difficult topics. Colleges should be places of the open exchange of ideas and the development of critical thinking. Those things are not possible if we find ourselves censoring our own thoughts.

Study the very topics people are trying to ban. Talk about difficult topics such as race, gender identity and sexuality. 

Seek out banned books and other censored media. These stories need to be heard, even if some people may not agree with them. If you don’t personally agree with them, then allow that to open up discussions that may broaden your opinions.

The Glacier Editorial Board consists of Rosie Finnegan, Opinion Editor, Mariah Trujillo, Editor-in-Chief, and the section editors of the publication. Editorials represent the official position of The Glacier.