Charles R. Twardy

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❝   If you must write about us, at least give a damn about us,

Sound advice from Whitney Kimball Coe on her county’s regrettable yet understandable Maus decision.

Not just “if you write, give a damn”, but about us. This is about community and relationships. She’s tempted to outrage, but she lives there, and “outrage is where relationships go to die.”

Outrage doesn’t get curious about why. It mutes the Principle of Charity. It often reacts to imagined motive more than act. Witness Colin Kaepernick taking a knee.

To be sure, there is plenty of anti-Semitism about, and Maus is charismatic megafauna, worthy of defense. But,

The meeting minutes suggest that their objections to Art Spiegelman’s Maus series had less to do with the subject matter and more to do with a purity narrative that never seems to die, no matter the zip code.
In a response Margaret Renki agrees, wryly noting:

Around here, antisemitism tends to take far more flagrant forms,

The minutes show a board mostly committed to teaching the Holocaust, but deeply uncomfortable making main unit text contain, as Renki summarizes, “profanity, sexuality, violence and… a suicide scene.” They wanted to just fully redact eight words and an image, but were advised that might exceed “fair use”.

That’s like restricting Alice in Wonderland for promoting poison, but as Renki notes, purity culture is universal: my demographic doesn’t mind literary profanity, but we have put two prize-winning classics on the Top 10 Banned Books list, for violating other norms.

Back to Kimball Coe:

❝   I’ve got to be on the side of holding that together.
If you want to signal to the world that you’re on the side of solutions and repair, then write or tweet as a repairer of the breach.