"Shame on you!"
"You hate the Constitution!"
"Every one of you in an orange jumpsuit should be ashamed of yourselves!"
"Hey, you in the orange jumpsuits, you're not picking up the litter! You're not doing your community service!"
The reaction of the counter-demonstrators (who prefer to be called pro-victory) was particularly vitriolic today. From inside the parking garage I could already hear one of the men bellowing. I took my place with the guitarists and flutist behind the music stand and dug in for a difficult hour. Planting my feet firm and closing my eyes, I practiced the visualization technique we had learned at the workshop a month ago. Imagining that I was a mustard tree, I got ready to sing with the other birds of the air perched on my many branches.
The pro-victory leader tramped in and out among our group, berating us. The stocky gentleman across the street, whose imprecations I had heard while still in the parking garage, never let up the entire hour.
During the last 15 minutes, we formed a circle and a few of us read first-person sketches we had written of some of the Guantánamo detainees. I read a brief vignette about Abdul al-Ghizzawi:
I was born in Libya but came to Afghanistan and opened a shop in Jalalabad.As we read, the counter-demonstrators pressed in close against the outside perimeter of our circle, a constant wave of invective drowning out our words.
When the war with the US began, I moved to the countryside with my family.
But bounty hunters noticed I was a foreigner, kidnapped me, and sold me to the Northern Alliance.
I have not seen my daughter since 2001, when she was 6 months old.
I am near death from tuberculosis and possibly liver cancer.
My last wish is for my body to be returned to Afghanistan and buried near my wife’s family, or to Libya.
"I love Guantánamo!"
"Our military protects your ass!"
One of our group broke down and began to cry and others put their arms around her to console her. I was surprised at the realization that I felt peaceful, even joyful in the midst of the bedlam.
As we were winding down our vigil, the pro-victory leader, by now very familiar with our routine, let out a shout: "The torture is over!"
I had to laugh.