A response to slander

February 19, 2014

The Steering Committee and National Committee of the International Socialist Organization respond to allegations made by former members.

A group of former members is claiming that the International Socialist Organization exhibited "indifference" and "inaction" toward allegations of a sexual assault.

This is simply a lie, made with the goal of smearing our organization and our record, in which we take great pride, of struggling against all forms of women's oppression and gendered violence.

The former members, grouped together in the "Renewal Faction," cynically distorted an account of a case--written in a document meant to be for internal discussion about the process of dealing with such cases, given their rarity in our organization--in order to falsely equate a local situation in the ISO with the mishandling of rape charges against a leading member of the Socialist Workers Party-Britain that caused a profound crisis in that organization.

We wish to respect confidentiality in this case. But we do believe we can say that after a case of sexual assault, the accused was suspended from the ISO, pending an investigation; resigned before the investigation was completed; and was formally expelled to make sure the accused could not rejoin the organization at a future date in a different locality.

The Renewal Faction's violation of confidentiality, with no concern for the facts nor the feelings of the survivor, displays a shocking disregard for those who survive sexual assault. This can only discourage any future survivors from coming forward if they feel that speaking up will lead to Internet gossip and speculation about the details of their lives.

The faction's accusation of a cover-up of sexual assault comes after a litany of attacks on the ISO that long before crossed the line of acceptable political discussion into the malicious use of the sensitive personal information to make baseless charges, including, for example, the false claim that one ISO member was a police informant. Now, its members purport to speak on behalf of survivors of sexual assault, while in reality exploiting this very important issue to score political points in a factional dispute.

The Renewal Faction's deliberate misrepresentation of the facts of this matter and maligning of ISO members at every level is destructive in intent and a breach of every standard of behavior for people on the left. We do not normally make public statements like this one against a handful of critics. But this particular critique is incendiary, especially in the context of the wide discussion of the SWP's failure to confront sexual assault among its leadership.

We want our comrades, friends and allies throughout the left in the U.S. and around the world to know that we unanimously reject the lies and distortions put forward by the Renewal Faction.

The ISO was meeting for the first day of its national convention when the Renewal Faction's slanderous statement--along with a series of resolutions supposedly directed to the convention, but never even submitted to it--appeared on its website. That day, delegates passed a resolution condemning the faction's Internet statement about the sexual assault case and demanding that they renounce these statements, among others, and remove them from their website, or face disciplinary action. The only two "no" votes were from members of the faction--who never returned to the convention after this vote to communicate their response to the resolution.

Again, we state that the ISO is united in rejecting these charges. We call on the Renewal Faction and those on the left who have made statements of support for it to take back their slanderous accusations, which toy with the most serious possible issues, and restore some semblance of principle to their behavior. And we ask our comrades, friends and allies to reject this cynical manipulation of a profoundly important political issue, as we continue to struggle together in the fight for women's liberation and for a new world.