Individual biases exist. I have them. You have them. Even scientists conducting fact-based experiments have them. The old thinking in behavioral economics was that people tended to analyze data, and based on their analysis they make their decisions. However, more recent studies suggest that this is not the case. Political economist at Stanford University Francis Fukuyama explains that people tend to “start out with an emotional commitment to a certain idea, and then they use their formidable cognitive powers to organize facts to support what they want to believe anyhow. So the partisan affiliation comes first, and the reasoning process by which you justify it comes second.” In other words, people believe what they want to believe, and when faced with facts, they either accept them as proving their beliefs, try to make them fit their world view, or discard them as inaccurate.
I will give an example of one time this happened to me. Earlier this year, 2020 presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg made the claim that a nationalized healthcare system would lower the administrative costs of healthcare. I did not believe that this was true given how bureaucratic government-run agencies tended to be. However, most industries in America are either private or public, and there are very few equivalent areas of each. For instance, there is no private DMV. There is no federal stock exchange. Even comparing the VA to general hospitals isn’t accurate, as the clientele are too dissimilar.
So I turned to the only area I could think of that may be able to compare the staffing in a public and private space: education. I thought that certainly public schools would have far more administrative personnel than a private school. I had been a teacher in a public school and a private school, and I know there are far more administrators in the public school than in the private school. However, after researching several states, it turns out that you can’t really say that. When compared to the numbers of students in private schools and the number of teachers in private schools, public schools actually have fewer administrators.
So what did I do with this information? Did I write the article? Did I publicize my findings? Nope. I sat on them. Until now. Instead of publicizing my findings, I dismissed them because they didn’t fit the narrative I wanted to push. I came up with excuses. I had thoughts like, “Well, I didn’t have the complete data I needed,” and “I’m not really all that qualified to analyze data on my own.” However, there is a very strong reason as to why this is wrong, and that is if the data had shown me what I had expected it to show me I would have written the article without considering if my methods, abilities, or available data were correct. My hypothesis would have been correct, and that’s really all I would have needed.
Enter Mayor Bill de Blasio. This is a man who really needs to understand his own personal bias. Last week, the mayor stated in a press conference: “I think the ideological movement that is anti-Semitic is the right-wing movement.” De Blasio was challenged by a reporter about the rising anti-Semitism on the left, to which he responded, “I want to be very, very clear: The violent threat, the threat that is ideological, is very much from the right,” as if to assuage any doubts as to what he meant.
Now, I’m no fan of the mayor. I believe that I have made that stance abundantly clear in my time writing this column. This is a man who had his police department literally turn their backs on him less than a year into his first term. This is a man who claims to fight for the outer boroughs of New York, while repeatedly failing to provide basic snow removal services year after year to anywhere but Manhattan. However, I would say that this is the dumbest thing the mayor has ever said, if it weren’t for all of the other things the mayor has ever said.
But if I were to take a step back and try to understand where de Blasio is coming from, perhaps I take a lesson away from his statement. You see, I don’t have to discuss open anti-Semites on the left such as Louis Farrakhan or Jeremy Corbyn. I don’t need to deliberate whether people like Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Linda Sarsour, Keith Ellison, and Tamika Mallory are actually anti-Semitic despite their insistence that they are not. And I don’t need to point out that each of these individuals has a tremendous following of people that hang on to their every word.
You know why I don’t have to do that? Because de Blasio doesn’t care about that information. His response to being presented with these individuals who are clearly on the left would be similar to my responses when confronted with my own research. One option would be to determine that he’s not qualified to decide if these individuals are anti-Semitic, despite, you know, already determining that all anti-Semites are on the right. Of course, the second option is to just completely ignore it altogether and pretend they don’t exist – for the simple reason that they mess with a narrative he’s trying to push.
The point of this article isn’t to downplay right-wing anti-Semitism. The evils of synagogue shootings in Pittsburgh and Poway were both perpetrated by far-right extremists. It is to highlight that despite the false narrative made about President Trump, there aren’t many (if any) anti-Semitic leaders on the right, regardless of how Mayor de Blasio allows his narrative to be guided by his biases.
Izzo Zwiren works in healthcare administration, constantly concerning himself with the state of healthcare politics. The topic of healthcare has led Izzo to become passionate about a variety of political issues affecting our country today. Aside from politics, Izzo is a fan of trivia, stand-up comedy, and the New York Giants. Izzo lives on Long Island with his wife and two adorable, hilarious daughters.