Democratic New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind speaks at a press conference with American and Israeli Jewish leaders and supporters of Israel in the Great Room at the W Hotel Union Square. (Photo: Getty Images)
A veteran New York Assemblyman on Monday stood by his decision to wear blackface makeup, an Afro wig and a basketball jersey to a costume party in the face of criticism he called "political correctness to the absurd."
Democratic Assemblyman Dov Hikind wrote on his blog Monday that he doesn't understand the criticism swirling around Albany, and doesn't know why anyone would be offended by the costume he wore to a party he recently held at his home in Brooklyn to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Purim.
Hikind hired a makeup artist and wore an orange basketball jersey, sunglasses and an Afro at the celebration that traditionally includes costumes. He reportedly went as a basketball player.
"I am intrigued that anyone who understands Purim - or for that matter understands me - would have a problem with this," said Hikind, a Jewish leader in New York. "This is political correctness to the absurd. There is not a prejudiced bone in my body."
His son posted a picture of the scene to Facebook with the comment, "How cool are my folks...lol." The woman on the left is Hikind's wife, according to the Huffington Post:
(Photo: Facebook via the Huffington Post)
There was no immediate comment from the Assembly's Democrat majority, but Hikind has been making the press rounds. He told a WCBS 880 reporter Monday that it "never crossed his mind for a second" that the costume could be interpreted as offensive.
“If I was black, on Purim I would have made my face look like I was white,” he claimed.
Earlier this month, Hikind criticized the fashion designer John Galliano, who was recently photographed in New York City dressing as a Hasid with a long jacket and curly sidelocks. Two years ago, Galliano was fired from Christian Dior after his anti-Semitic rant was caught on video.
"Are you mocking us?" he asked Galliano in a New York Post article.
But Hikind is defending his own costume: “The idea was to look out-of-character, to look different, for people not to recognize me,” he told 1010 WINS. “If I had to do it all over again I’d do exactly the same thing, without a doubt.”
He added that he has been "flabbergasted" by the reaction, asserting that "everything was done in good taste."
What do you think of Hikind's costume? Is he right that this is "political correctness to the absurd," or is this a step far across the line? Do you think he would receive the same reaction as a Republican?
The Associated Press contributed to this report.