Hikind is the asshole New York assemblyman representing District 48, a
swath of concrete in Brooklyn that includes Midwood and Borough Park, a
famous Orthodox Jewish enclave in the borough's southwest quadrant.
Hikind is an Orthodox Jew himself. To celebrate Purim this year, marking
the deliverance of the Jewish people from extermination in ancient
Persia, Hikind threw an elaborate costume party. Hikind's wife dressed
as a red-faced demon and his son painted a yin-yang symbol on his face,
reportedly to look like an "angel." And Hikind himself, the 62-year-old
elected representative from one of the world's most diverse cities? Why,
he went as a basketball player, in Afro and blackface, of course.
"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 and every
year I do something else. … The fun for me is when people come in and
don't recognize me."
Hikind went on to say that his costume, which draws on centuries-old blackface performances designed to undergird white supremacy, was done "all just in good fun with respect."
Despite the efforts of white folks who should know better,
blackface has been unable to convey fun or respect for quite a while
now. And Hikind's career to this point has not been a particularly
inspiring study in how to live with difference. Brooklynites may
remember some of his other greatest hits:
In both 2005 and 2009, Hikind introduced a failed "anti-terrorism" fearmongering bill
in the assembly that would have allowed police officers to stop and
search citizens based on their ethnicity, a law one might think a Jewish
person would find a bit unsettling when put in historical context, but
alas. Besides that, New York City police already stop people all the time based on their race, which makes codifying that sort of behavior seem like a particularly bad idea.
In 2007, Hikind said this
of gay marriage: "If we authorize gay marriage in the state of New
York, those who want to live and love incestuously will be five steps
closer to achieving their goals as well."
In 2009, Hikind fought to
exclude the five million people besides Jews killed by the Nazi regime
from Brooklyn's Holocaust memorial. "These people are not in the same
category as Jewish people with regards to the Holocaust," Hikind told the New York Post at the time. "It is so vastly different. You cannot compare political prisoners with Jewish victims."
In 2010, Hikind spoke at one of three New York memorials
to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the murder of Meir Kahane, the
American-Israeli political activist who founded the Jewish Defense
League. Kahane advocated the forceful removal of all non-Jews from
Israel and the barring of Jew-gentile intermarriages and sexual relationships.
At one of his memorial rallies, attendee Josh Davis was quoted as
saying, "Had we paid heed to Rabbi Kahane's message of expelling the
malignant Arab population back in the early 80s, we would not be at the
verge of extinction." The Southern Poverty Law Center now includes the
Jewish Defense League on its list of hate groups.
But Hikind isn't totally insensitive to ethnic slights. Earlier this month, when the New York Post
decided to gin up outrage about the supposed resemblance between
fashion designer John Galliano's outfit and Hasidic dress, the assemblyman obliged:
"Who is he mocking?" added
Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind. "The way the socks look, the jacket,
the peyos ... My question is, who's he laughing at?"
Jeez, great question, Dov. Now,
on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of black people who live in
Brooklyn, here's the same question: The way the black facepaint looks
and the Afro wig, my question is, who the fuck are you laughing at?