In defence of Hitch

I was perturbed to read (Books, 10 May) Albert Scardino's coprophagic and animal-likening imagery in his attack on Christopher Hitchens, the substance of which seems to be: he has been consistent in his bitterness to Bill Clinton (this point contradicted by the canard that Hitchens yearned to attract reflected praise from a glorious presidency); he lives in Washington; and he is an unrepentant socialist.

Scardino asserts that Hitchens has no understanding of history or of American politics of race and geography. Hitchens has for many years filed prescient, scholarly and impassioned reports - sometimes after arrest or under fire - from scenes of liberation struggles in the former Soviet Union, the Middle East, Palestine, Latin America and Indonesia as well as from America. He was the first to expose the covert brutality and hypocrisy of the Mother Teresa regime. His defence of human rights includes gay men in the Aids crisis, victims of the Ku Klux Klan and calling for the "unwavering defence" of Salman Rushdie on the grounds that "there is no other side to be on".

Smiling war criminals such as Clinton and his accomplices can fear Hitchens' pen. But for socialists and oppressed people this brave and angry writer is a good man to have on our side.

Lorraine Hewitt
Whitstable, Kent

This article first appeared in the 24 May 1999 issue of the New Statesman, Luvvies, stop moaning