Thursday, February 28, 2013

What Was He Thinking?

Assemblyman Dov Hikind on Purim
Just saw 2 videos on the Forward.  They ridicule New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind’s outrageously bad taste in wearing blackface as part of his Purim costume. Unfortunately I wish I could say that I’m surprised. But I’m not. There is a certain amount of racial prejudice among some of our people that sometimes rears its ugly head.  And it ought to be eradicated from our midst.

You would think that a public figure of Dov Hiknd’s stature would be a bit more enlightened than that. But you would think ‘wrong’. He apparently isn’t. The bigotry came through loud and clear. It is a soft kind of bigotry much like the bigotry that I believe is in the heart of our new Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel about the ‘Powerful Jewish Lobby’. It is not mean or vicious. Hagel is not a neo-Nazi that would want to see the extermination of the Jewish people. Far from it. He probably would have been one of the first to enlist in the US army during WWII to fight Hitler.

The same is true about Assemblyman Hikind. He does not harbor any KKK  type of bigotry that would lynch a black person just as soon as look at him. On the contrary. I would not be surprised to see a record of support for civil rights legislation.

But in both cases the bigotry is there. It is the type of bigotry that looks down at entire class of people as somehow being inferior. The kind that stereotypes or ridicules them by wearing stupid black-face makeup.

To be fair Dov Hikind did apologize. But so did Hagel. In my view both apologies fell short of what they should have been. In Assemblyman Hinkind’s case it sounded anything but sincere; and more like an excuse than an apology. Well… it was inexcusable.

Just to be clear, I don’t think Dov Hikind is a bad man. Quite the contrary. He has done a lot of good for his constituency. In fact, if I recall correctly, he has in fact worked diligently to try and eradicate sex abuse and bring offenders to justice.  Not an easy task.

But in this case he was terribly wrong and deserves to be called out for it.

Jon Stewart rightfully took Dov Hikind to task for this in two masterful and hilarious video segments of his show. Especially the 2nd one. I think he is right on the money here and Dov Hikind deserves to take his lumps.