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A lifelong denizen of Bethesda, Maryland (she remembers going to downtown ‘thesda with junior high school friends when it was a post office, a Hot Shoppes, and the Baronet Theater), UD enjoys the way ‘thesda’s wealth is threaded into news stories, especially in populist rags like The Daily Mail. You recall that, during Kavanaugh’s confirmation, his ‘thesdanienne provenance was, for some, just on its own, proof that he’s an entitled asshole.

And look at this breaking story from England. Look how ‘thesda plays a recurrent cameo role. And note UD’s bolding throughout.

A 25-year-old Stanford graduate who attended the prestigious DC school Sidwell Friends and is the son of a top commercial lawyer has enraged British politicians and sparked a free speech row in the UK by removing a portrait of the Queen from the students’ room at the Oxford college where he is getting his PhD. Matthew Katzman grew up in privilege in Bethesda, Maryland, a rich suburb of DC where he attended school with the Obama daughters, the Biden grandchildren and countless other politicians’ kids. After graduating from Sidwell in 2014, he studied math and theoretical computer science at Stanford, obtaining a masters in 2018. Katzman is now getting his PhD in computer science from Oxford, the historic university attended by British Prime Ministers.

This week, he sparked fury by leading calls to remove a portrait of the Queen from the common room at Magdalen College in his role as president of Magdalen’s Middle Common Room, an organization of around 200 graduate students. They decided between them that the portrait was ‘unwelcoming’ and represents ‘recent colonial history’. They’re going to replace it with ‘art by or of other influential and inspirational people’.

The decision has been blasted as ‘absurd’ by British politicians who say the young students ought to ‘show some respect’ for the 95-year-old Monarch. British Education Secretary Gavin Williamson tweeted: ‘Oxford University students removing a picture of the Queen is simply absurd. She is the Head of State and a symbol of what is best about the UK. During her long reign she has worked tirelessly to promote British values of tolerance, inclusivity & respect around the world.’

Katzman is the son of Scott and Sandy Katzman, both 65. His father is a partner at the commercial law firm Steptoe & Johnson. The family lives in a sprawling, $4million home in Bethesda. They have not yet commented on the row their son has unapologetically caused.

Let’s start with numbers. Between refers to something involving only two people; the writer should have used among, says Scathing Online Schoolmarm. And about that house value: Achingly, it’s only valued in the mid-threes (or even lower) rather than four by most of the assessment sites UD checked. On the other hand, it does indeed seem to sprawl.

Okay, so note how The Daily Mail has laid it on real thick, ‘thesdawise. Katzman’s top, rich, privileged and prestigious, with his race horses and castles and land … I mean with his fancy schools and affluent parents; and with all those advantages he still takes down a portrait of the Queen…

Amid the British rage Katzman has excited (the story’s burning up the wires), the president of Oxford College issues a calm and lucid statement of support. Short version: The kids are alright.

Ah hell. Let’s do the long version.

Here are some facts about Magdalen College and HM the Queen. The Middle Common Room is an organisation of graduate students. They don’t represent the College. A few years ago, in about 2013, they bought a print of a photo of the Queen to decorate their common room.

They recently voted to take it down. Both of these decisions are their own to take, not the College’s. Magdalen strongly supports free speech and political debate, and the MCR’S right to autonomy. Maybe they’ll vote to put it up again, maybe they won’t. Meanwhile, the photo will be safely stored.

Oh, and back to numbers for a minute. Most young Brits would like to do far more than take down the Queen’s portrait, so it clearly falls to the old farts to collapse onto their fainting couches when some college students start to mix things up. And while the Queen is indeed an impressive and even inspirational person, the larger royal family… ain’t as grody as the Spaniards, to be sure, but the Windsors have long contributed more than their share of louche behavior to the commonwealth, and people have a right to oppose them as heads of state if they like. UD understands that the prospect of Charles The Next has alarmed enough Brits that many would like the crown to leapfrog over him to his blander, grander, son.

Anyway, what you’ve got here is dueling elitisms – premodern and postmodern. Katzman embodies the global reign of the symbolic analysts; Elizabeth is… from another time.

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