By Jonathon Van Maren
Of all the advocates for the “No” side of Ireland’s abortion referendum, John McGuirk has consistently been among the most eloquent. At press conferences, in media interviews, and on TV panels he beautifully defended the pre-born child and laid out the heartless ugliness that abortion culture brings to every nation that invites in in. Predictably, since the triumph of the abortion activists over the weekend, he has been swarmed with bitterly jubilant “Yes” campaigners on social media, who have secured the demise of pre-born children and now wish to see his. He released a series of tweets in response, and his observations are characteristically brilliant:
Rarely in my life have I seen people angrier about winning than the repealers. Cheer up folks, it’s not that bad. There’ll be something along shortly for you all to focus your never-ending anger on, I’m sure.
Today I went to Stonehall Wildlife Park in Limerick (which is brilliant – take your kids) and petted a parrot, and several rabbits and goats. I come home to another 2,000 tweets from the angriest, craziest people in Ireland. Your unhappiness will never be fixed by a vote, folks.
The problem is the 8th amendment was never what was making you angry in the first place. It’s not the schools or the hospitals, or the ban on euthanasia either. No social reform is going to make you people happy. You’re all looking in the wrong place.
The deep injustice many people feel, and the power to change the country that they now wield, is missing something – there’s no vision in it for how to make people feel happy. Once all the “oppression” is gone, they’ll have to confront the fact that their misery is their own.
It was never the journey that was lonely. It was never the country that was cruel. It was never the church that was oppressing you. The movement you are in won’t leave you fulfilled and happy. It will just leave you all angry in company.
In terms of the calls to silence me, or others – hah. You guys own the country now. You own the media, the political class, the culture. You can keep pretending that a minority voice is holding you back, or you can realise that it’s actually an oppression of your own making.
One thing I kept hearing yesterday was that this was a “symbolic” victory. There are many more symbolic victories to be had – blasphemy, the role of women, the pre-amble. Lots more totems of the past to tear down. None of them will fix the problem.
The problem is that all of those victories are empty of meaning. Even this one. Having an abortion in Louth will not be more fun than having one in London. It remains an abortion. You’re not “free”. You’re just miserable, probably in greater numbers, closer to home.
The Irish liberal left has nothing to offer you whatsoever, beyond days like yesterday. A momentary feeling of togetherness. It can’t provide you with a good job, or a loving partner, or security. All it does is provide you with an enemy to hate.
McGuirk’s observations apply to abortion activists and their supporters not just in Ireland, but in many other countries, as well. My colleagues and I have often noted the difference between the joy of pro-life activists—those we had the privilege of working with on the Vote No Road Show being no exception—and the anger and hatred of so many of those campaigning for abortion, so ready to spill over that even the sight of a pro-life campaigner can trigger an ugly tantrum. For those in position of cultural strength, their willingness to explode into anger and even violence at the mere presence of someone opposing their point of view is hugely indicative. As for the preamble McGuirk was referring to, it is the opening statement of the Irish Constitution, which reads as follows:
In the Name of the Most Holy Trinity, from Whom is all authority and to Whom, as our final end, all actions both of men and States must be referred,
We, the people of Éire,
Humbly acknowledging all our obligations to our Divine Lord, Jesus Christ, Who sustained our fathers through centuries of trial,
Gratefully remembering their heroic and unremitting struggle to regain the rightful independence of our Nation,
And seeking to promote the common good, with due observance of Prudence, Justice and Charity, so that the dignity and freedom of the individual may be assured, true social order attained, the unity of our country restored, and concord established with other nations,
Do hereby adopt, enact, and give to ourselves this Constitution.
No wonder McGuirk (as well as several other commentators, including Michael Dougherty) have already noted that a referendum to remove these words may well be forthcoming. As the opening lines to a constitution that will soon be purged of the right to life for the smallest and most vulnerable members of Irish society, they are now only a cruel reminder of a different time when, for all the hardships, inequalities, and injustices that existed, the children were at least protected.