Talkin' trash to the garbage around me.

06 March, 2007

I may have been too hasty in judgment

In the previous post, I was pretty harsh on the rioting kids in Denmark, calling them narcissistic in their uncompromising stance to protect a symbol. Turns out, they may have been right:
Hundreds of tearful and angry protesters gathered outside a youth community centre in Copenhagen yesterday to watch as a hydraulic excavator tore into the building, bringing to an end more than 100 years of political history.

The "Ungdomshuset" or Youth House which once hosted Vladimir Lenin, has been the focus of street riots in recent days following the eviction of squatters from the building which has been sold to a rightwing Christian sect.


[I]ts importance as a place where political history was made goes back further. Built as a community theatre for the labour movement in 1897, it was here that both Denmark's women's liberation and trade union movements were founded. Lenin paid a visit in 1910 during the Socialist International Congress and it has played host to modern musicians such as Bjork and Nick Cave.

While not excusing the behavior of the rioters (or the police), Ungdomshuset's symbolic value becomes much clearer and the urgent desire to protect it more understandable. I have no doubt that the squatters felt a certain entitlement to the building that was problematic (comments on the YouTube thread associated with the vid in the previous post indicated that the squatters declined several offers to purchase the building), but there's no denying the very real symbolic importance of Ungdomshuset as a shrine for the Danish Left.

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