A Russian government’s plan to rid the capital Moscow of swastikas and everything else of Nazi origin, in time for Victory Day, when Russians celebrate the Soviet Union’s defeat of Hitlerism, resulted in an unhappy consequence: eager to comply with the new policy, Moscow bookstores removed cartoonist Art Spiegelman’s “Maus” from their display windows, the NY Times reported.
The Pulitzer-Prize winning graphic novel, depicting the tribulations of a family of Jewish mice during the Holocaust (their persecutors are evil cats), bears a big swastika on its cover, so off the window shelves it went, together with everything else Nazi-related.
“They just got scared that someone would see the swastika on the cover,” Varvara Gornostaeva, chief editor of Spiegelman’s Russian publisher, Corpus, told the Times. “But the swastika there is just a caricature. It does not fall afoul of the law banning fascist symbols.”
The Respublika bookstore chain said it decided to remove the book for fear that government inspectors would fail to discern the subtle differences between books for and against Nazism. A swastika is a swastika, apparently.
Boris Kupriyanov, co-owner of an independent bookstore in Moscow, said his fellow bookstore owners should be forgiven, because, alas, they’re idiots.
Kupriyanov quoted from Alexander Griboyedov’s satirical work “Woe From Wit,” about Moscow’s post-Napoleonic society: “An obliging fool is more dangerous than an enemy.”