In for a Penny
The Daniel Penny charges show we are still living in the world 2020 wrought.
Last Tuesday, the Manhattan district attorney’s office announced that Daniel Penny, a 24-year-old Marine Corps veteran, will face second-degree manslaughter charges.
The week prior, Penny was on the New York City subway’s F Train when Jordan Neely, a homeless, mentally ill 30 year old who has been arrested more than forty times, began threatening passengers on the train. After Neely’s threats to the passengers, which included Neely reportedly claiming, “I don’t mind going to jail and getting life in prison” and “I’m ready to die,” Penny was one of several male passengers who took action to restrain Neely. Penny put Neely in a chokehold while others restrained his arms, and when Neely went unconscious, the men and other passengers checked on his vitals. Neely later died, which observers claimed was due in part to first responder’s failure to quickly arrive on the scene.
In the wake of the tragic incident, protestors took to the subway system, demanding Penny’s arrest. New York's Gov. Kathy Hochul said Neely died for simply “being a passenger” and that it was “very clear that he was not going to, you know, cause harm to these other people.” New York City Comptroller Brad Lander called Penny a vigilante. Others weren’t so tame. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York said Neely’s death was a “public murder.” Other state and local elected officials went so far as to call it a “lynching.”
Unlike George Floyd’s death in 2020, however, Neely’s death has not kicked off another one of our perennial national "reckonings on race." But it didn’t need to.
Lasting effects from our racial reckoning in 2020, and the Soros-bought district attorneys that have implemented and overseen its pseudo-codification, continue to define the criminal justice system in America’s urban hubs. In these circumstances, mass civil disobedience is purely performative. There’s no reason to create disorder when the regime openly facilitates it.
On Tuesday, the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Accountability hosted a hearing titled “'Mostly Peaceful': Countering Left-Wing Organized Violence” that explored the state-sanctioned disorder that has continued since. I attended the hearing to see my friend Julio Rosas, a senior writer for Townhall and whose book about his on-the-ground experience at some of the nation’s largest riots I previously reviewed for the magazine, testify before the committee.
In his opening remarks, North Carolina's Rep. Dan Bishop, the subcommittee chairman, said, “Time and again, across the nation, Americans have seen both episodic and in some cases sustained violence against people, especially law enforcement, and property damage from so-called anti-fascist and anarchist groups.”
“I anticipate that my Democratic colleagues will reply with the official line from all the security agencies that right-wing extremism represents the most lethal, terroristic threat to the homeland,” Bishop later stated. He was right: Subcommittee Democrats, who stayed for one round of questioning to produce their soundbites and then leave (except subcommittee ranking member Rep. Glenn Ivey), did precisely that.
Ivey and subcommittee Democrats also made use of a chart produced by the Washington Post based on data compiled by the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) Center on Extremism, which shows that in cases where deaths occur, right-wing extremism is overwhelmingly to blame. But a cursory glance of the ADL’s data shows it’s riddled with errors.
By the ADL's own admission, the data is “derived primarily from public sources,” i.e. news reports from corporate media. It’s a blatant example of what Federalist Editor-In-Chief Mollie Hemingway calls “circular reporting”: The Washington Post reports on data compiled by the ADL stripped from reporting from the Washington Post (and sources like it).
Furthermore, the ADL report admits that not all of the killings they record as extremist killings have extremist motives. More than a quarter of the extremist killings the ADL cites from 2022 “either have no clear motive or were committed for a non-ideological motive.”
Another admission from the ADL: “As with any such list, the inclusion or exclusion of certain borderline cases may be the result of judgment calls based on the best evidence available, judgments with which others may reasonably disagree.”
Democrats repeatedly suggested that property damage really wasn’t that big of a deal, and cited testimony from FBI Director Chris Wray that Antifa is mostly an ideology. Citing Wray was meant to etherealize Antifa, but are all extremists ideologues of some stripe? It’s worth noting that rarely, if ever, was Chris Wray’s name mentioned along with the title “FBI Director.” One wonders why that might be.
In one of the more memorable attempts to get a soundbite, New York Rep. Daniel Goldman told his Republican colleagues, “you're trying to gaslight us up here as if Antifa, which Mr. Rosas, apparently the expert now in organized terrorist activity, has overruled the FBI director who says... Antifa is an ideology not an organization. No, no, no. Let's not listen to the FBI director. Let's listen to—sorry, what's your title?—senior writer at Townhall, who is going to tell us that the FBI director is wrong.” Rosas leaned into the microphone and said “yes” before Goldman reclaimed his time.
Later, Arizona Rep. Eli Crane gave Rosas a chance to respond. “Well, I think it's funny...to be lectured by an heir to Levi Strauss Corporation, and honestly, that's probably why he doesn't consider property damage to be that big of a deal because not only does he have that, but he also has what some would describe as an impossibly good stock portfolio,” Rosas said.
"But what I can tell you is that in these riots that happened three years ago,” Rosas continued, is that “yes, big corporations did suffer damage and looting… But a lot of the businesses, they were small businesses, they didn't come from multimillion dollar families or corporations.” The carnage in 2020 took away the livelihoods of many of these community businesses. If they were lucky enough for their businesses to survive, the continued, regime-approved disorder—even in places where local governments decided to refund the police—has made it difficult for communities to once again stand on their own two feet.
After the hearing, I spoke with Rep. Crane about our nagging hangover from the summer of love.
“They're destroying these cities. I think that's obvious,” Crane told me. “And it's sad, because these aren't data points. These aren't graphs that we're talking about. These are people's lives. These are families, these are business owners.”
“It's horrible to watch because you look at cities like New York and Chicago. They're beautiful, amazing cities, full of heritage and history, and people don't feel safe there.” The disorder, Crane suggested, is a tyranny of a different kind.
Though ostensibly “law and order” Democratic mayoral candidates have managed to win primary and general elections, they’ve done little to deliver. Anarcho-tyranny remains the operating premise of nearly every progressive urban center in the United States. It’s as if instead of sending up the bat signal, Gotham decided to illuminate the sky with the Riddler’s question mark.
Without the right to defend your property, you don’t actually have a right to it. Without the right to ensure your safety and the safety of your community, you don’t actually have the right to life. The only way to ensure your freedom, and possibly your survival, is to stay silent and subservient to the chaos that surrounds you.
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Georgia's Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a member of the subcommittee, told me in the Cannon building hallway outside the hearing room that Neeley’s death was “absolutely was not [Penny’s] fault.”
“He did everything he could to stop him from hurting anyone on the train that day, and then he took the appropriate actions,” she said. Penny, Greene argued, “is the target of left wing political extremism in the government. He's the target of the D.A. [Alvin] Bragg, who is abusing his power as the district attorney while he should be prosecuting real crimes.”
But for Bragg and his ilk, what Penny did was a real crime, a real crime not just committed against Neely, but against the regime. The Soviets used to send such dissidents to Siberia. In Manhattan, they’ll attempt to send this dissident to the correctional facility a few blocks away from the courthouse.