March 1, 2024
Book Reviews Polish/Jewish Relations

MAUS: Multiple Derogatory Portrayals of Poles Shown in the Classroom to Impressionable Children

 

 

Art Spiegelman’s MAUS: Graphic Art and the Holocaust. AMERICAN LITERATURE 68(1)68-84

by Thomas Doherty. 1996

Reviewed by Jan Peczkis

This is a review of an article that was published in AMERICAN LITERATURE 68(1)68-84. Its statements are most revealing.

THE POLES-ARE-PIGS MESSAGE IS NOT ONLY DEROGATORY, BUT IS EGREGIOUSLY SO.

Doherty admits that, “Occupying a landscape that crossed George Orwell with Max Fleischer, where Nazis were snarling cats, Jews forlorn mice, and Poles stupid pigs, MAUS redrew the contractual terms for depictions of the Holocaust in popular art.” (p. 70. Emphasis added). Hear that, Polish and non-Polish deniers?

For more on the extraordinary negative portrayal of Poles in MAUS, quite apart from the derogatory pig image itself, see my review of:

https://www.jewsandpolesdatabase.org/2021/11/13/hilene-flanzbaum-maus-in-poland-multiple-derogatory-levels-of-the-poles-are-pigs-characterization-polish-anti-defamation-law-falsehood-ongoing-antipolonism/

THE BIG IMPACT OF MAUS AND ITS CLEAR ANTI-POLISH MESSAGE

Jewish Polonophobia must be measured less by its quantity than by its relative ability to shape American public opinion, as manifested in the media and the educational system. There is no question about MAUS in this regard. Doherty writes, “The inherent audacity of the project earned MAUS an extraordinary amount of attention in the press, and, by and large, the response was rhapsodic. In addition to the Pulitzer Prize, the work garnered dozens of laudatory reviews and inspired op-ed pieces in the pages of the major metropolitan dailies, a sure sign of its status as a cultural and a literary event. By the time a consumer-friendly packaged edition of two volumes appeared in stores for the Christmas 1991 season, MAUS had entered the national lexicon.” (pp. 70-71).

Normally the press is opposed to promoting bigotry. That is, unless this bigotry is directed at Poles. Portraying Jews as pigs (as in JUDENSAU) is awful, but portraying Poles as pigs (as in MAUS) is just fine. See:

https://www.jewsandpolesdatabase.org/2021/10/24/german-antisemitism-judensau-and-maus-the-pig-a-uniquely-derogatory-image-in-both-shachar/

 

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