Students must know about what happened in the Holocaust to prevent another one | Opinion

·3 min read

On Jan. 27, we Jews in Nashville celebrated with our wonderful Christian supporters International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

This national holiday acknowledges the 77th anniversary of the American liberation of Auschwitz, the infamous World War II Nazi concentration camp.

To put this specific tragedy in its proper perspective, of the 6 million Jews murdered in the Holocaust, the 1.5 million Jews systematically rounded up and gassed at Auschwitz equals every man, woman and child in Nashville and Memphis combined.

As an 80-year-old Jew living in Nashville for the past six years, I came to realize how fortunate we are to have the unwavering support of Nashville’s amazing Christian community.

However, I just received the most outrageous, insensitive, and totally inappropriate action perpetrated by a Tennessee local school board against Nashville's 25,000 Jewish residents.

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What is real reason behind removing 'Maus'?

First, a little background:

“Maus”, is the 1992 Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel by Art Spiegelman, in which he described his father’s Holocaust experience.

Chief Rabbi of France Haim Korsia blows into a horn to pay tribute at the International Monument to the Victims of Fascism at the Memorial and Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau of the former German Nazi concentration and extermination camp in Oswiecim, Poland on Jan. 27, 2022, on International Holocaust Remembrance Day marking the 77th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.
Chief Rabbi of France Haim Korsia blows into a horn to pay tribute at the International Monument to the Victims of Fascism at the Memorial and Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau of the former German Nazi concentration and extermination camp in Oswiecim, Poland on Jan. 27, 2022, on International Holocaust Remembrance Day marking the 77th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

It was a centerpiece in the Tennessee’s McMinn County School’s celebration of this holiday for their eighth grade English language arts instruction.

Bending from pressure from some parents who felt that this book was too graphic for their children, their school board suddenly banned the graphic book in their month-long study of the Holocaust.

Why? It was because of “curse words,” “nude drawings,” and because of its “not wise or healthy content.”

Or has a subtle form of antisemitism surfaced it’s ugly head once again in the Volunteer State? In some way, softening or minimizing this horrific, unimaginable tragedy was the preferred description of their censorship.

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What more shall we ban?

I ask y’all the following:

  • Should we stop showing images of a nude Christ on the cross at Christmas? Of course not.

  • Should we stop showing all the lynching and violence perpetrated against African-Americans during our slavery history. Of course not.

  • Should we stop showing the 9/11 massacre of 3,000 innocents at New York City‘s Trade Center because it didn’t have “healthy content.” Of course not.

It is so important that eighth grade students be shown a realistic description of the Holocaust, not a watered down, politically correct fabrication.

Let’s not forget, that among the 6 million Jews who lost their lives while most of the civilized world looked the other way, 1.5 million were children, just like the eighth grade students involved in the book-banning controversy.

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Students must be shown what happens when they are indifferent

This past year, studies have shown:

That there has been a drastic nationwide rise (12%) in antisemitic crimes.

Only 45% knew how many Jews were actually killed in the Holocaust, according to the Pew Research Center

Many were surprised by the recent attack on a Congregation Beth Israel in Texas during their Shabbat (Saturday Sabbath) service.

Steve Morris
Steve Morris

Students must be shown what happens when they don’t stand up even against the least forms of hatred. This is especially true when they themselves are not the specific target of the crimes.

If you want to solve this easy-to-solve book-banning controversy? Get representatives from Nashville’s Jewish and Christian community, the school board, parents, librarians and representatives of the Nashville Holocaust Memorial Museum.

The meeting should be held at the museum so Holocaust exhibits can be viewed by everyone attending.

Hopefully a solution can be reached since this is not a parental control issue but a realistic description by a Holocaust survivor.

Steve Morris is a retired dentist from New York City. He lives in Nashville and is a frequent contributor of letters and guest essays to The Tennessean.

This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Holocaust education: How 'Maus' removal harms Tennessee students