Burn Baby, Burn!

See no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil — write no evil — the American Taliban’s war on freedom of thought in the U.S.

‘It’s a culture war that’s totally out of control’: the authors whose books are being banned in US schools by Claire Armitstead

From Art Spiegelman to Margaret Atwood, books are disappearing from the shelves of American schools. What’s behind the rise in censorship?

When the owners of a Tennessee comics shop learned that a local school board had voted to remove Art Spiegelman’s Holocaust classic Maus from its curriculum, they sprang into action with an appeal calling for donations to fund free copies for schoolchildren. Within hours, money started pouring in from all over the world. “We had donations from Israel, the UK and Canada as well as from the US,” says Richard Davis, co-owner of Nirvana Comics.

Ten days later, they closed the appeal, after raising $110,000 (£84,000) from 3,500 donors. “We bought up all the copies the publisher had in its warehouse and we’re now in the process of shipping 3,000 copies of Maus to students all over the country, along with a study guide written by a local schoolteacher,” says Davis, who has relied on volunteers to help with the distribution.

For Spiegelman, it has meant an exponential sales boost for a 30-year-old book – the only graphic novel to win a Pulitzer prize, in 1992 – and a flurry of speaking engagements across the country. “It just shows,” he says, “you can’t ban books unless you’re willing to burn them and you can’t burn them all unless you’re willing to burn the writers and the readers too.”


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