As Daily Show Purim Correspondent Jessica Williams said, it was a low down, dirty shondeh.
So you’ve probably heard about New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind’s Purim costume.
It took a while for Hikind to apologize. His first response to the notion that people were offended was to profess shock. According to the web site Politicker, he said:
I can’t imagine anyone getting offended. You know, anyone who knows anything about Purim knows that if you walk throughout the community, whether it’s Williamsburg, Boro Park, Flatbush, Forest Hills, Kew Gardens Hills, people get dressed up in, you name it, you know, in every kind of dress-up imaginable. 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.
When people were inexplicably not satisfied by this response (failing to see “tremendous amounts of dignity and respect” in a giant Afro and blackface), Hikind continued to say, essentially, “It’s Purim, Jake.”On Monday he appeared on Zev Brenner’s Talkline radio show, where he said:
I don’t know how many people were offended — you know, we haven’t done a poll. I don’t want to hurt anyone. So I think if I had to do it all over again, I would look at other possibilities. Maybe do something similar but do it in a way that’s maybe more acceptable. I’m not sure. It’s all in the spirit of this special holiday.”
Hikind’s suggestion for a future costume: “Maybe I would be a gay person on Purim. Would that be OK, Zev, if I played a gay person next year?” (He told the New York Times, “Next year I was thinking I’d be an Indian.” Decisions, decisions.) Funnily enough, the Purim holiday is actually about living as a minority in a culture in which some people (Haman) are prejudiced and some are not (Ahasueros). But I digress. Oh wait, no I don’t.
When the criticism refused to die as easily as Haman on the gallows, Hikind allowed, “I do this every year for thirty-five or forty years…anyone who was offended, I’m sorry they were offended.”
Still not enough! Finally, yesterday, he apologized at length 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.
“Some people have marveled” and “what they’ve characterized as my insensitivity” — still sounding kinda snippy there, Dov! And the repeated stressing of “anyone” and “any human being” in the second graf has a hint of “anyone…even CRAZY OVERLY SENSITIVE PEOPLE!” Finally the words “that’s not who I am” do not belong in any apology, ever. If you did it, it is who you are. Even if you’re still not fully owning what that thing is.
What’s particularly kooky, as the Daily Show pointed out, is how quick Hikind is to accuse others of bias. What the Daily Show did not point out was Hikind’s response to the sight of disgraced designer John Galliano’s outfit during New York Fashion Week:
“Who is he mocking?” an outraged Hikind asked the New York Post, rhetorically. “The way the socks look, the jacket, the peyos . . . My question is, who’s he laughing at?”