The fight for social justice needs to be taken back to society

Jeff Schooley's view

Oppressed peoples have the right to and must — for a civil society — fight their oppression. As history has shown in America, that fight is often a legal one.

Such legal fights are best seen in the emancipation of slaves, the right to vote for women and blacks, desegregation for blacks and hate crime legislation for the LGBT community. But there comes a point in any movement when the struggle is no longer a legal one, but a social one; and I declare that this time is upon us as a society.

I should say first, however, that not every legal problem is solved. Blacks need to end racial profiling; the LGBT community still has its marriage fight and women face unjust work conditions, particular to wages. All of these struggles can, and should, be fought politically. But the “third wave” of these struggles will need to be a social struggle and, in that, the practicalities to the struggles must change.

No longer is it fit for these oppressed minorities to spend the majority of their time and finances in political action committees. The legal arms of the National Organization for Women, the NAACP and the Human Rights Campaign need to be weakened and a re-focusing on social change must be implemented.

At the heart of the issue is a struggle between anti-discrimination and liberty. As the premiere principle to our society, freedom must be preserved. And as we’ve seen in cases of flag dragging and pornography, freedom is preserved even in light of distasteful institutions. Therefore, it seems unreasonable to ask the law to place liberty above acceptance. Liberty allows people the right to dislike anyone they please. Anti-discrimination necessitates certain legal rights even in the face of personal opposition. But it cannot necessitate acceptance.

It is best to see this as a struggle to win over hearts rather than heads, where “hearts” are the human aspect of the individual and “heads” are the legal. Over the past 150 years, these minorities have won over the “heads” of society, as they have gained relative political equality. But now the time has come for these groups to win over the hearts of society, and to do so, these minorities must become evangelicals of sorts.

They must concern themselves less with their own cause and more with the “souls” of others. True evangelicals, a term which I borrow from Christianity, do not seek self (or group) glorification, but rather an enhancement of character and cause of those they “save.”

Finally, as evangelicals, they’ll need to move beyond their identity group in hopes of aiding others in doing as such. If the LGBT community’s ultimate aim is to have their sexual orientation viewed as secondary to their own individual unique personalities, then they must begin to wear their sexual orientation accordingly. Then, because the “social” movement is about a desired end, they will need to accept all who desire that same end as allies. Thus, the next great leader of the LGBT community might very well be straight. And what is true for the LGBT community is true for women and blacks, alike.

It is time to put the “social” back in social justice.

Jeff Schooley is a graduate student in English and an editorial writer for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].