29 JANUARY 1972, Page 18

A thing is a thing

Sir: Mr Henry Adler (Letters, January 22) seems to be saying that we are all thugs, though some thugs are less thuggish than others. A gross over-simplification, but containing more than a germ of truth. Hannah Arendt put it the other way round: she drew our attention to the ordinariness of Eichmann, the banality of evil; in so doing she brought coals of fire down upon her head (from Mr Adler, too, perhaps?).

It must surely be obvious to thinking beings that the victims and witnesses of 'thuggery' cannot also be the judges, any more than the alleged perpetrators. At present the real crime of unlawful and violent political action is to he unsuccessful. This must be changed: anyone accused of a crime against humanity by a member state of the United Nations should be liable to arrest in any state and required to stand trial before a truly independent and international tribunal.

Mark Braham 14 Westehester Drive, London NW4