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The Dov Hikind Purim Backlash Grows

The Brooklyn assemblyman kind of apologizes for wearing blackface

Adam Chandler
February 25, 2013
Dov Hikind (Center)(Facebook)
Dov Hikind (Center)(Facebook)

As we noted earlier, Dov Hikind is fighting an uphill battle against his own poor taste and his own big mouth a day after dressing up a basketball player in blackface for Purim.

The Brooklyn assemblyman responded to the controversy earlier this morning on his blog thusly:

Yes, I wore a costume on Purim and hosted a party. Most of the people who attended also wore costumes. Everywhere that Purim was being celebrated, people wore costumes. It was Purim. People dress up.

I am intrigued that anyone who understands Purim—or for that matter understands me—would have a problem with this. This is political correctness to the absurd. There is not a prejudiced bone in my body.

It was this last sentence that caught the attention of Eli Valley, himself no stranger to provocation, who posted a story about Hikind on Facebook:

“There is not a prejudiced bone in my body.” – Minstrel Performer

Throughout the day, the acrimony swirled with some of his colleagues and fellow Democrats taking him to task. State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver called the actions “inappropriate and offensive.” Assemblyman Karim Camara, who chairs the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Caucus also chimed in:

“I find the actions of the Assemblyman to be callous and repugnant. At the very least, an apology should be issued to those who found his portrayal objectionable.”

The timing happens to be extra embarrassing for Hikind, who just last week pilloried John Galliano for dressing up as an ultra-Orthodox Jew at New York’s Fashion Week. To staunch the growing anger, Hikind called a press conference to (kind of) apologize this afternoon.

“In hindsight, I should have picked something else. It never crossed my mind for a split second that I was doing something wrong. It was as innocent as something can be,” later adding, “I understand people’s sensitivities. Nobody meant anything. It was not meant to offend you or hurt you in any fashion. I’m sorry people were offended. It was not meant that way.”

We’ll see how this apology goes down.

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.