Syracuse or Berkeley the other half for money. The onlyndifferences now are that travel is easier, and America’snAnglophilia and lenient hiring laws make a profession ofnallegiance unnecessary. iSleither Christopher Hitchens nornAlexander Cockburn seems to have any intention of becomingna citizen, although the former has been here since 1981,nthe latter since 1972, and neither plans to leave. “I got myngreen card quickly,” says Mr. Hitchens. “Besides, I was 30nwhen I got here and I’d feel like an imposter saying I was annAmerican; it’s too late to change. We are too similar and toondistinct. There are Irish-Americans and German-Americansnand Mexican-Americans—but there is no such thing as annEnglish-American.”nSome of this reticence to really attach may be explainednby this quote from Jessica Mitford. She was writing aboutnthe South (for a 1962 magazine article), but her comparisonnis to Anglo-American relations:nThe prejudice Northerners feel towards Southernersnis roughly parallel to that felt by English peoplentoward Americans, and is compounded of many ofnthe same ingredients — a thoroughgoing dislike ofntheir public policies, contempt for their level ofneducation and culture, and a sort of instinctivenrecoil at the sound of the accent — larded in bothncases, it must be said, with a thick layer of thatnparticular form of snobbishness that sneers at thenprovincial.nIt’s a telling quote, not the less so because Miss Mitford hasnlived here most of her life, married an American, became ancitizen, and seems genuinely to like the country (her years innthe Communist Party notwithstanding).nThe British wouldn’t be here, of course, if Americansnhadn’t hired them, and the question then is whatnmakes them so attractive? The answer is not as simple asnAmerican insecurity, though there is certainly some lingeringncolonial timidity.that sends a wave of panic through annupwardly-mobile middle-class American — am I using thenright fork? — whenever some Mother Country accentncomes floating down the dinner table. No one is so foolish tonthink that Mrs. Trollope’s Domestic Manners of the Americansnwould have been a hit had the author been fromnBoston. Nor is there any question that when the Britishnaren’t being purposefully rude — the English definition of angentleman — their manners are indeed more gracious thannours.nIn mores as in journalism, part of the answer to thenquestion of British success in America is style. The Britishnoften write well, or at least better than most Americannjournalists — even Christopher Hitchens’ enemies praise hisnEnglish. Plus an Oxbridge education still counts for morenthan Harvard or Stanford or Yale. One American professornexplained the prevalence of British academics in Americannclassics departments by saying that we can forgive them theirnhigh standards: coming from their still class-stratified country,nthey are exempt from the egalitarian rule. Excellence innsome fellow-citizen is quite another matter. Veni, vidi, vicindoes not apply to those who venierunt from, say, Sandusky,nOhio.nBrits are also especially welcome on the left, because bynvirtue of their foreignness and their accent and their politics,nthey remain very much outsiders and hence “unmeltable.”nBesides, the left prefers its criticism to be truculent, and thenbloodiest soldiering has always been done by mercenaries;nnot because they are paid to fight, but because what shouldnthey care how they wage battle, when it’s not their people orntheir country?nLike many vices this British bluntness can sometimes be anvirtue; for better and worse still another reason to hire anBriton is he can say things an American can’t. This is partlynbecause he is an outsider, but parfly due to the freer debatenyou will find not only in England but all over Europe.nEngland’s ofiEcial secrets act is nothing compared to thenAmerican horror of speaking one’s mind, of purposefullyngiving offense, of making an enemy. As a nation we maynlack manners, but not tact. The British, however, don’t havento play the code-word games you’ll see in Americanndiscussions of, for example, poverty (“inner-city youth”),nthey don’t have to restrict themselves from certain topics,nthey don’t even have to be polite. Sometimes it seems thatnthey don’t even like to be polite. If anything they possess as angroup a decided affinity for the ad hominen attack.nOne of the arguments against opening the borders is thatnimmigrants have a habit of bringing along their own cliques,nown prejudices, and own quarrels. This is as true of thenBritish as it is of the Columbians or Montenegrins, thoughnthe British are generally more entertaining. Frankly, the bestnthing about Mr. Cockburn especially is his quarrels. Hisnprose in medias pugnas takes on a life that the endlessnNicaragua columns lack. The swipes at Colonel North andnPresident Reagan and Mrs. Kirkpatrick are pale by comparison,nmerely the rote public hate for impersonal publicnenemies. The good stuff is saved for private targets — who ofncourse are most often British. As the feminist adage has it,nthe personal is political.nThere’s a book to be written on Hitchens-Cockburn-nFairlie feuds alone. Take, for example, the only two-Nationpagencolumn of Christopher Hitchens that I can recall — hengenerally limits himself to a single Nation page — which wasna personal attack in the form of a review of Englishman PaulnJohnson’s Intellectuals. (It’s the same with all of us: somenthings we write for hire, and some for pleasure.) It begins:n”In a novel called Left of Centre which is now, to the reliefnof its publisher and author alike, safely out of print, PaulnJohnson wrote what is generally agreed to be the mostnembarrassing spanking scene ever penned” and descendsnfrom there, drinking and wife-slapping figuring prominently.nMore tasteful but just as fierce was the inter-magazinenwar in 1987-88 between Henry Fairlie (New Republic) andnAlexander Cockburn (Nation) over an alleged slur by Mr.nFairlie against Mr. Cockburn’s father, Claud Cockburn, thenfamous leftist journalist. Fairlie wrote in the New Republicnthat Claud had fabricated his London Times reports fromnNew York during the Great Crash. For a regular journalistnthis would be a serious charge. But Claud Cockburn isnfamous for founding The Week, a pro-Soviet newsletter thatneven the more polite admit published “near-rumor,” oncenacted as Pravda’s London correspondent, and happilynadmitted in his autobiography, I, Claud, that he and OttonKatz invented the Battle of Tetuan when they werennnJULY 1990/21n