For those of you who thankfully don’t know, Dov Hikind is a New York State Assemblyman in our town of Brooklyn who has represented the Borough Park area since 1983 thanks, in large part, to the voters in his district who share his Orthodox faith. Yesterday he hosted a big party for Purim, a holiday derived from a story in the Biblical book of Esther. It was an “open door” party; Hikind encouraged visitors to go a little crazy with their costumes and post the pictures on their Facebook pages.
Today Hikind stands to gain more attention than at any other point in his political career–and the vast majority of it will not be positive. Quite a few people in New York City politics and beyond have expressed their shocked surprise at his decision to attend his own party in blackface, dressed as what he describes as “sort of a black basketball player.”
Hmm…apparently no one told Hikind that blackface was a blatantly racist stage trick used throughout the early 20th century by white performers who embodied cartoonish stereotypes of their black countrymen.
As the backlash began to build overnight, Hiking tried to explain himself, telling reporters from the New York Observer that “I was trying to emulate, you know, maybe some of these basketball players. Someone gave me a uniform, someone gave me the hair of the actual, you know, sort of a black basketball player” and insisting to a local CBS reporter that it “never crossed my mind for a second” that some people would not find his costume particularly amusing. He went on to point out that his wife dressed as the devil and insisted that it was all in fun: “It was Purim. People dress up…This is political correctness to the absurd.”
He added this incredible nugget of non-wisdom: ““If I was black, on Purim I would have made my face look like I was white.”
Look, we know a man this high up in city politics has a media relations/PR team of some kind, but they obviously failed to teach him two very important lessons:
1. Don’t do anything so obviously idiotic.
2. If you do something so obviously idiotic, don’t keep trying to defend yourself.