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Washington Examiner

How the censorious Left strangles publishing houses.


Last month, the New York Times reported on the McMinn County, Tennessee, school board’s decision to remove Art Spiegelman’s graphic novel Maus from the eighth-grade curriculum. School board members cited nudity and profanity as justification for their decision. The ensuing controversy gave liberals fodder against the Right in the long-standing and increasingly prominent cultural debate around censorship and who is doing it. Incidents like this pop up periodically and read as procedurally as a Law & Order script. The plot always differs slightly (last season, it was Dr. Seuss), and the details might be more or less lurid. But it’s a show we’ve all seen often enough, never to be shocked by the ending. In this particular episode, the specter of antisemitism was invoked as the book in question, Maus, portrays Jews as mice and Nazis as cats, fictionalizing the author’s parents’ experience in the Holocaust. Predictably, the New York Times “contextualized” the story by citing Anti-Defamation League statistics on antisemitic incidents and “a broader movement to ban books that address certain ideas about race, as well as those that address sex and LGBTQ issues,” clearly alluding to the critical race theory debate in education that has galvanized the Right in several states and local jurisdictions.

The article’s subject gave liberals a reason to reinvigorate a vintage culture war position that peaked in the '80s in opposition to the Moral Majority and has not been relevant since Bush-era evangelical opposition to the Harry Potter series. And this battle has a comfortable setting, the small, conservative, footloose-quian Southern county that exists in the minds of New York Times readers as an archetypical and cartoonish heel, a backward place full of unthinking rednecks who are antagonistic to people like them, a sundown town for white women who use moleskin journals. In the past, this would have ended with Dana Carvey doing a Church Lady skit on SNL and a few snarky op-eds on Christian prudishness. Now, the dubious “context” provided by the New York Times allows its liberal readership to imagine their conservative cultural opponents as more Hitler than Falwell, as novelist Neil Gaiman suggested when he tweeted: “There’s only one kind of people who would vote to ban Maus, whatever they are calling themselves these days.”:snip:

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