It’s clear that Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind was under some serious pressure yesterday after a series of New York figures lined up to condemn his
indecorous racist blackface Purim costume.
First defiant, Hikind later called a press conference to apologize in that non-apologetic “sorry if anyone took offense” kind of way, which didn’t cut it for most. Finally, this morning, he really apologized on his blog:
Some people have marveled at what they’ve characterized as my insensitivity in wearing the costume I wore on Purim. My initial reaction in learning of this was one of shock because my intention was never to hurt or make fun of anyone. Those who know me—in politics and in my personal life—already know this. But others who don’t know me have expressed hurt and outrage, so I am writing to address that once and for all. Unintentional as they were, I recognize now that the connotations of my Purim costume were deeply offensive to many.
I am sincerely sorry that I have hurt anyone. I apologize for the pain that I have caused anyone by this incident, and by any remarks that I have made in connection with it. It genuinely pains me that I have pained any human being. That’s not who I am, not who I want to be. I sincerely hope that this note will soothe any hurt feelings.
Sure, he seems contrite, but what does it say that (a) that it took so much to wrangle this apology from him (b) that there weren’t calls for his resignation? Over at the Observer, Hunter Walker has a theory:
A Brooklyn politico told us political figures running for citywide office are reluctant to take on Mr. Hikind because they fear “retribution” from a man who’s seen as “the gatekeeper of Orthodox Brooklyn.”
“If this were another Assemblyman what would happen here? A three-car pileup of city officials denouncing his actions,” they said of the costume incident before citing names of several elected officials who hadn’t weighed in on the flap.
The local political insider listed several factors as contributing to Mr. Hikind’s strength, including his status as a perceived “kingmaker” in Brooklyn’s Orthodox community, his large war chest and his past association with the militant Jewish Defense League, which has been described by the FBI as a “right-wing terrorist group.”
To be fair, the Jewish Defense League is not really still in operation, so I’m not sure that’s something salient. Nevertheless, Walker makes a good case.
Of course, as one of my colleagues pointed out, another reason there may not have been even more piling on is because some people just don’t care if someone dresses up in blackface.
Earlier: The Dov Hiking Purim Backlash Grows
Fellow Lawmakers Slam Dov Hikind For Purim Costume Featuring Blackface Makeup [NYDN]
A Heartfelt and Sincere Apology [Blogspot]
How Dov Hikind Survived the Blackface Backlash [NYO]
Adam Chandler was previously a staff writer at Tablet. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Slate, Esquire, New York, and elsewhere. He tweets @allmychandler.