Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Exchange on Homosexuality in Challenge-Desafio

EROL Note: The following series of articles and letters appeared in the Progressive Labor Party newspaper Challenge-Desafio during the period November 1973-February 1974.

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Mass Response to PLP Call for Black-White Unity Proves:

Boston Workers Won’t Buy ’Race War’ Crap

First Published: Challenge-Desafio Vol. 10, No. 10, November 2, 1973
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
Copyright: This work is in the Public Domain under the Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.

BOSTON. As resistance to low wages and high prices grows, black workers are right up front. They’re helping pull off strikes that show the way, from Chicago transit to Detroit auto. Progressive Labor Party (PLP) communists are in the heart of this movement. We accuse the government of pushing race-war to crush workers’ resistance.’

Do you doubt it? Welcome on up to Boston, brother. Or check out any paper, the past few weeks. Every cop rumor, every racist slur by Boston Mayor White is screamed out by the media, nationwide. Every “blacks-stalk-whites” nightmare story is presented as solid fact. But PLP and others are organizing against this nazi offensive by Boston’s super-liberal establishment. They control the press. But we’ll see who wins the people. Let’s take a closer look ...


“Dot” is in the heart of a “changing” section of Boston, being block-busted by big banks and their real-estate front-men. Racist fears are spread. Thugs are hired to burn down homes, Real estate flunkies spread fear on commission. Whites sell cheap–out of fear–and blacks have to buy dear. Banks float new mortgages, make a giant killing.


“Dot” High is crumbling-a hell for the poor. The “Industrial Arts” program has kids fixing school officials furniture, free. Headmaster O’Brien is typical of Boston-corrupt, crazy, hates kids. Suspended a girl last year for refusing to run outside with no coat during a winter fire drill. Jumps couples walking arm in arm, screaming “Not in my school!” O’Brien organized a super-secret “attack force” last year. Made up of the most anti-worker, corrupt, racist teachers, the “force” was called out many times with coded messages (!) on the P.A. system, to handle insignificant or imaginary “incidents.” “Mr. Quigg to the nurse’s office”–and the goons would stalk out of class, man battle stations (Good to know we’ve got some PROTECTION mates!) Besides harassing kids all the time, the “attack force” goons pushed racism.

THE TROUBLE PROBABLY STARTED with a fight Tues., Sept. 25. We say “probably” because it’s not clear what happened. In fact the MAIN thing that happened, is that the racist “attack force” spread 50 different rumors about blacks attacking whites–these rumors were the main problem. Even then, there wasn’t much trouble until Thurs. morning.


Some black students were outside school Thursday morning. (Not unusual.) Someone pulled the alarm. School officials KNEW it was false, but, despite warnings from teachers and kids that there would be a fight, they FORCED students to rush out the building, through the crowd, provoking a serious fight. The blood is on their hands!


ALREADY, THE PRESS WAS WHOPPING it up with tales of black “militants” (used to mean savages!) attacking whites. Nevertheless, fighting was still pretty limited. From that time up until now, the press has hidden stories of black and white people’s desire for unity. Thus when students returned to “Dot” High Monday, the Globe reported that half the seniors (“split on racial lines”) held workshops backing policy. The fact: officials banned ANY meetings. But 100 defied them, met and worked out unity demands (like for firing race-war mongeriug Headmaster O’Brien) and suggested changing the black studies program’s name to involve more whites. We’ve distributed tens of thousands of fliers in Boston for 3 weeks. Few of the thousands we’ve talked to want to fight each other!


During the first week in Oct., things were cool at “Dot” High. So the press & government opened a new front, spreading horror stories of black gangs after white blood.


Wed., Oct. 3, Evelyn Wagler was murdered. The press immediately took up the cops’ story as their own. Along with Mayor (“Super-liberal”) White, this sincere trio joined in a holy hunt for the “six young black maniac murderers loose on the streets of Boston.” (O streets of Boston! What a lot of fascist drivel is spewed forth in your poor name!) Anyway, the police-press-politician story is so full of holes, it’s like swiss cheese. First, nobody in Grove Hall ever saw cops show up & rush a victim to the hospital so fast. How did homicide chief McCallum end up at Wagler’s death bed–with a tape recorder, no less? The story of 6 blacks burning this poor woman comes ONLY from cops. Maybe they’re lying, covering for some killer cop like crazy Ganamian, who gunned down a white kid in West Roxbury recently. Wagler lived in a lesbian commune–why didn’t the press mention this? A black cop and several neighbors told us it’s a whore house. A local kid says people saw her arguing with a man about “bad drugs” before her death. Contradicting the cop story, a gas station man says he sold no white woman gas that night! Why the press silence on these stories? Because they shatter the police version where black hate-gangs hunt whitey!


Or take the horror story of fisherman Louis Barba, “stoned to death by a black mob of 50.” Radio stations followed “the mob’s movements.” TV newsmen zoomed in on blacks watching cops drag Barba away, commenting: “Police refused to say whether these youths were among the killers.” Just 2 days later, the cops admitted an “unfortunate mistake.” Barba had been stabbed with his own knife, not stoned. (Bumps on his head could have been from a fall onto rocks). No gang existed! Yet, the following Wed., the Boston Herald still ran the headline “Stoning Victim Buried.”


Press hysteria has given the worst racists a field day Police and their agents and un-paid friends are going all out with rumors & “pogroms.” Police have asked white workers we know to help “set some” blacks. On Oct. 4, police organized whites to beat up black students at Boston’s Andrews Station. A black girl’s back was broken (NO banner headlines!) The Globe carried the police version of a story about a black minister, Rev. Hollins, accused of shooting a white kid. We interviewed the Hollins’. They told a story straight out of Nazi Germany.

Tues. Oct. 9th the Hollins went to Roslindale shopping center after a desperate call from the Rev.’s sister.

They found her by her vandalized car. Nearby were cops joking with 50 racist teenagers. When the cops left, the punks surrounded the Hollins. The family fled in the good car, the mob at their heals. They heard shots, then were stopped and dragged nut by an army of cops. After much abusive police frisking (the women were molested), they were dragged to the local police station. Rev. Hollins was booked for shooting a white kid with a stolen police gun!

THE BIG BANKERS AND INDUSTRIALISTS who run this country are tightening every screw. To divert workers and prevent whites from following militant black workers’ lead, the bosseS whip up racism as we’ve seen in Boston. Whites who buy racism suffer too! Once you ally with the government and the rich, once these anti-worker vampires get their fangs in your backside, watch out brother: they don’t let go. What has Boston’s super-racist, Louise Day Hicks done for the “little [white] people” she always weeps over in South Boston? She loves them so much, she’d do anything – even take the shirts off their backs! The fact is, white South Boston schools and reading scores are nearly as crummy as in black Roxbury! On the other hand, black-white unity means WORKERS CAN WIN!


PLP has been helping fight the bosses’ racist offensive in Boston. We seized the GLOBE office to protest racist coverage. We helped get 100 Northeastern Law School students’ signatures on a petition against this coverage -the petition was later printed after another confrontation at the Globe. We are linking the fight against the race-war campaign to the campus struggle against racist ideology. We mass leafleted with about 40,000 fliers. We must go further. Right now, we are helping build groups on the job and in communities to fight for workers’ demands like the ones in the headline above. Black and white ALIKE need these things. And they can ONLY be won by uniting all workers. 30 hours work for 40 hours pay is key for workers today and the Workers Action Movement is the organization that is leading that fight. Just as throughout working class history, shorter hours means lower unemployment, more time with family, fewer exhaustion caused accidents. (Naturally, no loss in pay!) But this takes a united class – not the bosses’ dream of each race and nationality going it alone. The same goes with decent schools. Don’t we need black-white-latin unity to beat the bosses’ trick of playing off each school or neighborhood on its “special interest?” The same goes with fighting crime. It’s increasing – both among white and black. The main cause is drugs. The cops know the pushers – they could stop this murderous traffic tomorrow. Political big shots are deeply involved, and the cops get their cut too! Workers should organize on the job or in neighborhoods to demand police round up the pushers. If they won’t, lei the people deal with this matter themselves! How can this be done without black-white unity?

BECAUSE THIS UNITY IS so crucial to ALL workers’ lives, actions like the police-organized gang-attack on the Hollins set back the whole working class movement. Racist ideas are a lot of filth, and the bosses have been planting this filth for years just in order to prevent this unity we desperately need in order to solve real problems. Whoever participates in such acts is the worst type of criminal!

(Boston PLP & WAM members and others are circulating petitions on the job against racist press coverage. If you want to circulate such petitions outside Boston, please write your own, and send completed ones into PO Box 1336, Boston Mass. 02104. We’ll see they are presented in the proper fashion!)

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Letter to the Editor: Evelyn Wagler

First Published: Challenge-Desafio Vol. 10, No. 13, December, 1973
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
Copyright: This work is in the Public Domain under the Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.


I have just finished reading the Nov. 2 issue of C/D, and would like to comment on the center-page article “Boston Workers Won’t Buy ’Race War’ Crap.” The political points about the ruling class’ need to provoke race-war are good (though somewhat unclear). But some of the things written about the Wagler torch murder are disgusting, e.g.: “Wagler lived in a lesbian commune–why didn’t the press mention this? A black cop and several neighbors told us it’s a whore house. A local kid says people saw her arguing with a man about ’bad drugs’ before her death.” First, according to other reports, Evelyn Wagler was a radical feminist (could it be chauvinism which equates feminism with lesbianism?). An argument about drugs could easily have been an argument against drugs. Second, since when do revolutionaries give credence to the word of cops, black or white? Third, her living in a “lesbian commune” is no more than meaningless gossip designed to show her supposed instability. Primarily, though, WHAT IS THE POLITICAL POINT OF ALL OF THIS? How does personal slander (which is essentially what it is) attack the ruling class? I think your party’s politics are great–so why not stick to them in the paper.

One more point. Simply calling yourself a communist does not automatically make you one, nor does it make clear what communism really is and why it is needed. C/D is focused almost exclusively on reporting and criticizing reform struggles–which I agree should be primary. But communists have the responsibility of raising that level of struggle into and beyond socialism. A communist paper can help do that by 1) running a continuous series of articles on the party’s politics and role under capitalism, and 2) running a continuous series of articles on how the dictatorship of the proletariat can solve the problems that the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie creates!

–A Boston reader

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Challenge Responds

Since the disgusting murder of Evelyn Wagler, the Boston and national press, including the New York Times Sunday magazine, have done their utmost to portray her as a heroine for two reasons. First, to increase people’s hatred for the killers who were, according to the police, a band of race-crazed blacks. Second, so that Mrs. Wagler’s life would yield no possible motive for murder other than the official one, race-hate. Because if Mrs. Wagler had been killed for reasons other than the fact that she was white, the press would not be able to use this ugly crime to strengthen racism among white people. Of course, by the same token, if revolutionary communists knew of any possible motive other than race, it would be our duty to publicize these facts.

The official murder story came entirely from the police. And it was very fishy:
Doctors say Mrs. Wagler, burned very terribly and close to death, could never have given the full account, which the police claimed they taped at her hospital bedside.
Indeed, what were the police doing with a tape recorder at her bedside, anyway?
Why have the police refused to play the tape they claim they made and from which they claim their whole story derives?
Why have no witnesses come forward defending the police story? The cops blame “public apathy.” Yet, the only person actually named in the police story–a gas station attendant–has come forward. And he denies the cops’ claim that he sold Wagler gas that night.

The police story could, of course, be partly true. But simply on the face of such internal evidence, it is more likely a lie, aimed at building racism. What, then, did happen to Mrs. Wagler? Some suggest that the police killed her deliberately to fan race hate. Others say it is possible the cops invented the “hate-whitey” story to cover for some deranged, homicidal cop, a common occurrence in Boston, and that the press picked it up to help the racist campaign. But we have no evidence of either of these possibilities. The evidence we do have points towards different motives for the slaying.

Since the murder, we have talked to thousands about the racist hysteria. We heard a number of eye-witness stories and learned some definite facts which are noteworthy for their virtual absence from official and press accounts.

First, Wagler did live in a lesbian commune. The Boston Phoenix, which has led the pack in using this murder to build racism, admits this. “Under the growing acceptability of homosexuality, the climate even in staid Boston, has changed sufficiently so that the racially mixed group of women living together on quiet residential Wayne Street had already been accepted by their neighbors in the month they lived there before the murder.’”(Nov. 20, PLP) Normally, the press would play up such a sensational angle. Yet, no word in the Times, Globe, or Herald concerning this known fact. The press suppressed this information to hide what most people would see as a possible connection with the murder.

Second, eye-witnesses told us the commune was a whore house. Several neighbors told us this, as did a black cop whose story totally contradicts the official police story and who explained he was spilling the beans to get back at the racist police force.

Third, a neighbor said he and several others had heard and seen Mrs. Wagler shortly before she was killed arguing with a man over “bad” drugs which had passed between them.

None of these stories can be dismissed simply as gossip since all these people claim first-hand evidence. Moreover, the people we talked to seemed quite serious and quite upset. Indeed, none were willing to let us quote them by name. Some expressed fear of gangsters, others of the police.

We have not publicized these accounts to slander Mrs. Wagler but rather to point out several motives, other than race hate, for this ugly murder. If the press and police had publicized these accounts, white working people would have concluded this was either a) a sex killing like the homosexual slaughter last summer in Texas or b) a drug-prostitution crime. Which is why they chose not to print these accounts and why we did. Publicizing these accounts is crucial to fighting racism.

Hopefully, this will clear things up for the Boston reader. As for us, we are still pretty upset about “personal slanders,” of a different sort. Black and white working people are being killed every day. And we sec black working people smeared as the villains in the case– blamed for every problem whites face, with their own problems blamed on “black inferiority.” We see our children exposed to racist filth in the media, the schools, racist forces in the neighborhood. The only proper response is to build a movement to deal with those who gain from racism, those scum, our rulers. To paraphrase the Phoenix, such a movement must respond to every instance of racism with “near hysterical outrage.” Sometimes, we must expose unpretty facts–including offensive aspects of people’s lives–to counter ruling class lies about the people. Don’t blame us. Blame the system that fosters social decay as a further attack on our lives.

In other words, we were not pleased to have learned these facts about Mrs. Wagler. But it was our duty to state them publicly.

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Letter to the Editor: Evelyn Wagler

First Published: Challenge-Desafio Vol. 10, No. 15, January 24, 1974
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
Copyright: This work is in the Public Domain under the Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.


I was glad to see you printed a Boston Reader’s letter criticizing your article on Evelyn Wagler’s murder. I too was disturbed by what I took to be a suggestion that Lesbianism and possible drug use somehow made her death less terrible a crime. But your response, while clarifying your purpose in bringing these matters up, raises other questions no less disturbing. You are certainly right to combat media attempts to whip up racist hysteria through exaggerated coverage of lurid crimes to which are attributed motives of race-hatred-innocent white woman tortured by black fiends. And very possibly the press did hide certain facts about Ms. Wagler’s life in order to keep readers thinking of the crime in terms of race rather than drugs or sex. But while you recognize (as did the media) that many people dismiss crimes against homosexuals as simply bizarre or irrelevant or even to be expected, you fail to look into the reasons why such dismissal is possible. The fact is, homosexuals also are oppressed in this society –barred from certain jobs, harassed by police, scorned by the general public. That a Lesbian burned alive seems to so many people less shocking than a heterosexual burned alive is a mark of the sexism which permeates our thinking, and which must be vigorously opposed. To combat racist attitudes by appealing to sexist attitudes is hardly a revolutionary tactic. Homosexuals are working people too.

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First Published: Challenge-Desafio Vol. 10, No. 16, February 7, 1974
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
Copyright: This work is in the Public Domain under the Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.


I read the first article concerning the bosses’ attempts to whip up racial hatred in Boston. Then I read the letter of explanation in a subsequent issue further elaborating on a point of criticism that the original article deemed the murder of Evelyn Wagner as not so bad because she was a lesbian and dope addict. This explanation was more than satisfactory. Consequently, I was surprised to see another letter in the paper again trying to distort the article, and the explanation. Thus the letter to the editor in the January 24th issue seemed to be making a larger point. That is the role of homosexuals in society and our attitude toward them. My letter is non-antagonistic. And while this question isn’t the most burning question of the day, some more thought should be given to homosexuality.

The rise and the openness of homosexuality is one of the more striking signs that a system is in a state of decay. This is because the logical development of homosexuality must lead to limiting the development of society. Homosexuality is antisocial; it is the opposite of working class development which views the growth of society as paramount, and views the growth of society with enthusiasm and confidence. Furthering the growth of any species is the first order of business. Weaken this drive and you limit the development of society.

So in its earlier period, capitalism, it its class interests, viewed homosexuality in a negative light.

During the past decade the decline of the U.S. rulers is apparent. Part of this decline is evidenced by their growing “tolerance” of homosexuality. Gay liberation has become one of the in-groups of the country. Recently, a top psychiatry organization ruled that homosexuality was not abnormal behavior. In the past this group had ruled the opposite. While there is still much harassment of homosexuals, there is a marked growing tolerance by the bosses of homosexuality. Many articles are filling the bosses’ papers reconditioning Americans on this question.

The bosses are switching because their base among workers is dwindling and they need to hang onto what they can. Additionally, they need to encourage deviate behavior, drug use, and homosexuality to divert the workers. Marijuana is soon to be formally legalized, even though serious studies have proven it produces irreversible brain damage.

History has shown that it is among forces like these that the ruling class can come up with some of its most reliable support. The SA in Nazi Germany was an all homosexual ring. We know that mis perverse development is rampant among U.S. cops. After World War II, a famous Italian movie, “Open City,” directed by Roberto Rossellini, shows quite graphically the relation of drugs and homosexuality to Nazi rule and worker’s oppression.

Lenin warned long ago of the “lumpen-proletariat.” These were also workers. But these workers had been crushed economically and politically by the bosses. So they became a great source of anti-working class forces for the bosses to draw from. Today’s homosexuals are also a similar source for bosses to draw on. Homosexuals have been crushed by the ruling class psychologically. These people are often no longer able to have an objective social outlook. Sometimes they hook up with the most rabid anti-working class forces. The Hell’s Angels are notorious homosexuals. And this group is strictly a police front. The new picture, “The Laughing Policeman,” makes this obvious point clear.

The argument that somehow C-D condones ruling class type brutality against anyone is a red-herring. In the final analysis C-D and the PLP are going to be the ones to rehabilitate homosexuals and to build a society which does not require personality deviations in order to drop out of a rotten society.