It’s only Monday, but Assembly Member Dov Hikind already has a commanding lead in the Most Spectacularly Racist Gesture By A New York Politician This Week contest.
As Politicker first reported, Hikind celebrated Purim this year with a costume party, for which a professional make-up artist transformed him into a “basketball player” by means of an afro wig and blackface. As Hikind told Politicker:
“I was just, I think, 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,” Mr. Hikind explained. “It was just a lot of fun. Everybody just had a very, very good time.”
Everybody had a good time! Okay! Some of us had been worried that maybe someone might be offended.
“I can’t imagine anyone getting offended,” Hikind told Politicker. “Purim, you know, everything goes and it’s all done with respect. No one is laughing, no one is mocking. No one walked in today and said, ‘Oh my God.’ … It’s all just in good fun with respect always, whatever anyone does it’s done with tremendous amounts of respect and with dignity, of course.”
Tremendous respect and dignity. Hikind expanded on his defense in a conversation with Gothamist this morning, saying that if he were black, he might well have celebrated Purim by donning whiteface:
“It was just about being different. And that’s what we do on Purim. “
Hikind’s costume may be the most striking visual expression of where he’s coming from, but it’s probably not terribly surprising to those who have followed his career. Hikind came up as a protege of Mier Kahane, the founder of the Jewish Defense League, who was ultimately convicted on domestic terrorism charges. (By some accounts, Hikind himself was investigated and arraigned in relation to JDL actions.) More recently, Hikind is also the guy who railed against efforts to recognize gay and Roma victims of the Nazis, saying “The Holocaust is a uniquely Jewish event.” He’s repeatedly urged the NYPD to engage in racial profiling.
Hikind’s latest display of bigotry was seized enthusiastically by City Council member Charles Barron, who Hikind characterized last June as “unrelentingly racist and hateful” for his “rabid attacks on whites.”
“He had a lot of nerve jumping out there on us,” Barron told the Voice today. “To say that you decided to portray a black basketball player with a wig and sunglasses and blackface, and it’s for Purim? Purim was about their attempted massacre by a Persian king, not this. To say that you wanted to look strange wild and crazy — if you wanted that, all you had to do was look in the mirror, not at us.”
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