We hear a lot – a LOT – about how “social justice” aka atheismplus aka feminism & anti-racism & LGBT rights & trans rights & animal rights and fill out the list as you like, is a distraction, is divisive, is “drama,” is attention-whoring, is whatever label you want to use by way of saying it has nothing to do with atheism or skepticism or secularism or free inquiry.
There are ways that’s true, if you look at both parts of the equation very narrowly and literally. It is of course perfectly possible to be both an atheist and an aggressively misogynist shithead. If we didn’t know that a priori we would certainly still know it empirically, because we’ve encountered so many glowing examples. (I mean “glowing” in a radioactive sense.)
But very narrowly and literally isn’t the only way to look at the issue. That which is literally true isn’t necessarily good for strategy or longevity or popularity. Atheists can be shits, sure, obviously, but if you want an atheist movement that makes atheism more acceptable and even respectable (by which I mean worthy of genuine respect; I don’t mean prim and conformist), then having a movement full of shits isn’t helpful. Also, if the movement is one where people get together, in local chapters and the like, then, again, having a lot of shits around isn’t conducive to expanding the movement. Shits repel everyone else.
Now, if there are more shits than there are non-shits, maybe being inclusive toward the shits is the best way to go, at least in terms of bums on seats. But I’m sentimentally optimistic enough to think that shits don’t outnumber non-shits. In any case there’s also the quality issue. Is it better to have a bigger movement full of shits? Or a smaller movement not full of shits? For pure vote-counting, obviously the first is better, but for pretty much everything else, the second is.
Also, there’s principle. A lot of us actually do act on principle on these things.
All of that indicates why social justice is actually not irrelevant to atheism or skepticism considered as movements as opposed to purely individual desk activities.