In case you’ve ever wondered what your mother and the detainees at Guantanamo Bay have in common, Congressman Jim Moran may have found the answer. On a recent trip to the controversial facility, the closing of which he endorses, Moran let it slip that the book Fifty Shades of Grey is popular among the inmates. How popular you ask?
“Rather than the Quran, the book that is requested most by the [high-value detainees] is Fifty Shades of Grey. They’ve read the entire series in English, but we were willing to translate it,” Moran, who advocates for closing the facility, told HuffPost. “I guess there’s not much going on, these guys are going nowhere, so what the hell.”
What the hell, indeed? Moran has never been known for his deft touch in public utterances. In 2003, the Virginia Dem made no bones about his belief that Jewish communities were the driving force in pushing America into the Iraq War (despite the polls placing Jewish Americans among the war’s biggest opponents). Moran’s on the reading habits of detainees weren’t confirmed by Gitmo officials.
“We don’t discuss our high-value detainees except in the most generic terms,” Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale told HuffPost. “Further, we do not discuss the assertions made by members of Congress.”
Back in June, Charlie Savage wrote about the library at Guantanamo Bay for the Times Book Review and described it this way:
The library has about 18,000 books — roughly 9,000 titles — the bulk of which are in Arabic, along with a smaller selection of periodicals, DVDs and video games. Religious books are the most popular, Milton said, but there is also a well-thumbed collection of Western fare — from Arabic translations of books like “News of a Kidnapping,” by Gabriel García Márquez, and “The Kiss,” by Danielle Steel, to a sizable English-language room, which boasts familiar titles like the “Harry Potter” and “Lord of the Rings” series, “Watership Down” and the “Odyssey.” Some detainees arrived knowing English, while a few others have learned over time.
The dispatch also said books with too much sex and violence don’t make it through. So who knows?
Adam Chandler was previously a staff writer at Tablet. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Slate, Esquire, New York, and elsewhere. He tweets @allmychandler.