“On Persecuted Dealer”
by Harald Martenstein

original title: Über benachteiligte Dealer
appeared in Zeit Magazin, November 20, 2017

In Berlin-Kreuzberg, the district museum is planning an exhibition about dealers, especially those from west Africa. They are also the nicest – one meets them in Hasenheide Park, for example, which actually belongs to Neukölln. I am often there with my kid. Recently the playground was closed on account of storm damage. We were looking for the other playground – there are two in the park – but I didn’t know the shortest way there. Immediately a dealer recognized my searching look and came over, saying, “you must be looking for the other playground, daddy.” Then he gave us directions. So must a good dealer be. You don’t always find this service-oriented attitude in retail. The business of drug dealing is one of the few services in Berlin that is always settled quickly, easily, and politely. I ask myself why dealers don’t manage the Berlin registry offices and the vehicle registration office, and, for example, let the politicians sell marijuana in the parks. Then we would have a functional administration, a social problem would be solved, and drug dealing would come to a standstill, because one would have to register six weeks ahead of time for every joint.

Of course it’s legitimate to create an exhibition about dealers. Dealers are interesting and a part of everyday life in Berlin. There are obviously already exhibitions about war. Making a war exhibition doesn’t mean that: we find war essentially great. Small dealers are not major criminals, and most would surely prefer to have another job.

However, I still find the characteristics that the exhibition-makers attributed to the dealers irritating: They work “fearlessly and courageously in public space” and are “discriminated.” A Berlin dealer really does not need to be brave, the police leave him largely in peace. Car burners are discriminated. Anywhere in Kreuzberg when you peacefully set a car on fire, you have to worry that it will cause trouble with the police – and this in the year 2017! The exhibition-creator Scott Holmquist even demands that a monument be built to the dealers. Then of course demands from other ostracized groups would come forward. The thimbleriggers would also want a monument, the pickpockets, the cigarette smugglers, there would be no end. The monument of glory for the bike thieves would obviously be inaugurated by Cem Özdemir, whose e-bike was just recently stolen from his Kreuzberg entry hall.

It is not wrong to see a dealer as a victim of circumstances. It depends on the “how”. When one makes a homage to the dealers, one once again hits those who work and follow the rules right in the face. When these people then reorient themselves politically, one cannot complain. Maybe the Kreuzberg Green Party, who have a majority here, think: It doesn’t matter, we’ll naturalize the dealers, then they will all be loyal voters. But if dope is legalized the dealers will be jobless, thanks to the Green Party. The unemployed prefer to vote for the AfD over the Green Party. The district should immediately create offers for bike thieves retraining programs, that would be part of the “fight against the right”. According to the official version, by the way, the main culprit of the dealer-discrimination problem is colonialism. Therefore, I propose that the streets of former colonial officers be renamed for dealers.

Original in GERMAN