This morning I was on some sort of Huffington Post livechat talking about the recent story of Fresh Prince of Bel Air's popularity in the library for detainees at Guantanamo Bay.
This story has been all over the internet. Basically, while they're not granted key pieces of American culture like trials and due process, the men detained for over a decade now at Guantanamo can request American media through the prison's small library. Harry Potter made its way to the detainees, as did Obama's memoir, and now the Fresh Prince series is a popular request. The man who did the requesting, reports the Miami Herald, is a detainee who was actually cleared for release some time ago. It's bureaucratic hurdles that keep him imprisoned indefinitely. Suicide is not an easy option, so what the hell else are you going to do in that situation than request some Will Smith?
Stories like this hit home and are popular because people are shocked to remember that the people detained in Guantanamo are actually people. The images we have of Guantanamo are all of faceless groups. But the 160 people imprisoned there and the 600 or so we've already released are, yes, humans with families and histories and likes and dislikes and senses of humor. One big reason Guantanamo is still open—despite Obama's Inauguration Day promise to close it—is because the place is unimaginable to us. We don't talk about it because it's hard to visualize or understand what it's like there. But it is a prison full of people, it is part of this world. They, like you and I, can watch the Fresh Prince.