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A history of British grifters in the US

Writing at The Daily Beast, James Kirchick has a nastily entertaining take on the history of British grifters, mountebanks, fraudsters and cranks finding (at least temporarily) gullible publics in the United States– of whom Louise Mensch, Milo Yiannopolous and “Dr.” Sebastian Gorka are only the latest.

Having either failed in their native land or found it not big enough to contain their massive egos, these “chancers” (as they are known in British slang) invariably come to America where they find a ready audience among the sort of people who think an English accent automatically confers sophistication.

And do I need to mention the sinister Andrew Wakefield, who may have the ear of the anti-MMR vaxxer currently occupying the office of President of the United States?

Kirchick mentions some of their fictional forebears depicted by Mark Twain, Evelyn Waugh and F. Scott Fitzgerald. P.G. Wodehouse, himself an expat in the US, set several of his Jeeves and Wooster stories in New York. In one of them (“Jeeves and the Hard-Boiled Egg”), Jeeves arranges for 87 businessmen from Birdsburg, Missouri, to pay $150 to meet the visiting Duke of Chiswick, with hilarious consequences.

And yes, yes, their are plenty of fine native Britons living here in the US, some of whom even follow Harry’s Place.