For yesterday's Purim festivities, State Assemblyman Dov Hikind hired a professional makeup artist to come to his Brooklyn home and paint his face brown. He then donned a black wig, sunglasses, and an orange mesh jersey which he said was intended to evoke the attire of a basketball player. It was all in good "fun," the Assemblyman insists, but after a photo of Hikind in costume started making the rounds on Facebook, some observers were not amused.
Any surprise that Dov Hikind, who hates Muslims, also hates black people? Racism isn't about who your victims are, about who you are.
— Zaid Jilani (@ZaidJilani) February 25, 2013
So, for Dov Hikind, boycotting the Israeli occupation is racist but wearing black face is all in good fun?
— Daniel Sieradski (@selfagency) February 25, 2013
— Russell Schaffer (@RussOnPolitics) February 25, 2013
"It was great, it was wonderful, it was a wonderful day," Hikind told us when reached by phone this morning. "The tradition is that on Purim, throughout the Jewish community people get dressed up in every kind of uniform and change their appearance. I do it every year and love it. My wife dressed up last year as an elderly Rebbe. It was great, it was fun." Asked if he was concerned about his costume this year being perceived as insensitive, Hikind said:
The idea of being politically correct on Purim is sort of a foreign thought. If I was black and looking to change and be different—and that's really the objective—I would have wanted to be white, just to be different. I don't think anyone thought, imagined, or contemplated that someone would have an issue with whatever someone wants to dress up as on Purim. I never thought that if I'm white and look different, be it black, yellow, green, or blue, that someone would object to that. I can't even imagine that. I don't see it, I don't get it.
If there's someone out there who has a problem, I'm sorry if they do. They really should not. If they had been in our home for the 14 hours when hundreds and hundreds of people came, I don't think it crossed anyone's mind for a second. Everyone was having a good time. I don't think anyone ever thought about black, white, or anything like that. It was just about being different. And that's what we do on Purim.
City Councilman David G. Greenfield, whose Borough Park district overlaps with Hikind, tells us, "I disagree with him. He should've known better." And it's perhaps worth noting that Hikind's costume kerfuffle comes not long after he had a problem with John Galliano, the former Christian Dior fashion head, for a Fashion Week ensemble that allegedly evoked clothing worn by Hasidic Jews. "Who is he mocking?” Hikind asked the Forward earlier this month. “The way the socks look, the jacket, the peyos... My question is, who’s he laughing at?” [Via Politicker]