To the editor,

As someone who depends on the CTA (the number 72 North Avenue bus, slated for reduced service) and as an activist who protested these drastic cuts in our city’s transit service, I was pleased with the extensive coverage of the fight to save mass transit in your recent cover story [“You Can’t Get There From Here” by Neal Pollack, September 5].

However, as a member of the International Socialist Organization which Mr. Pollack mentioned several times in his article, in each instance portraying our group as parasitic interlopers in the fight to save the CTA, I feel the need to set the record straight.

First of all, the ISO has no secret agenda. We will tell anybody who cares to listen (or who bothers to ask us, which Mr. Pollack did not) that we believe decent, cheap, and extensive mass transportation should be a right for all working people in this city, and we’re willing to organize towards that end. Rather than latching on to a cause as Mr. Pollack accuses us of doing, we are actively fighting to stop the CTA cuts which will adversely impact so many Chicagoans’ lives.

We have gathered hundreds of signatures on petitions; we have written about this issue in our newspaper, Socialist Worker; we have attended and spread the word about hearings to discuss the cuts; we have attended planning meetings with other groups to organize protests; in short we have worked to do everything we can to build opposition to these cuts.

But Mr. Pollack should be aware of this fact, given that he was in attendance at the R.I.D.E.R.S. coalition meeting on July 17 where I proposed and argued for the July 24 protest of Daley’s cocktail party commemorating the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Rather than finding out about the event and sending representatives, “all of whom carried signs prominently displaying the name of the International Socialist Organization,” we not only helped plan and build for the protest, we brought over a dozen people with us and carried signs reading “Stop the CTA Cuts!” in addition to identifying our organization.

Maybe Mr. Pollack also questions the motives of Metro Seniors in Action, members of which carried signs at CTA protests with their organization identified (visible in the pictures by Randy Tunnell which accompanied the article) but didn’t have the space to mention it.

Or is it that Mr. Pollack just doesn’t like the socialists? It is an old tactic of red-baiters, left over from the days of McCarthyism, to slander socialists and radicals by implying that we don’t really care about all these issues we spend so much of our lives fighting for. We are accused of latching onto a cause to seek “converts for the revolution.”

Mr. Pollack may not like our politics or our picket signs, but he doesn’t have a leg to stand on when it comes to questioning our commitment to the fight to save mass transportation. We may be involved in numerous struggles, from the fight against CTA cuts to the fight against welfare cuts, from building support for striking UPS workers to opposing immigrant bashing, but that is because we are an organization committed to fighting for a better world, and that fight entails activity on a broad number of fronts.

On the accusation that we’re so out of touch with the other protesters that the “ISO members [at the CTA hearing on June 30] moved among the crowd, hawking newspapers and seeking converts to the revolution. But most people had something else on their minds that day,” I would choose only to quote Mr. Pollack’s own interview with CTA bus driver William Dorsey after the CTA hearings on June 30. “The CTA is talking about reinventing itself, but people are going to reinvent the spirit of revolution. Fighting back. Outside tonight, I saw it coming.”

Kirstin Roberts

Humboldt Park