FIRST ON THE DAILY SIGNAL—The rush by the Left to vilify former Marine Daniel Penny before Americans have all the facts of his case could have a negative effect on American males’ willingness to be heroes, Sen. Josh Hawley said Thursday.
The Missouri Republican discussed Penny’s case during an interview with The Daily Signal about his new book, “Manhood: The Masculine Virtues America Needs,” following news that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg had charged Penny with second-degree manslaughter in the death in the New York subway of Jordan Neely.
The senator pointed out that the American people still don’t have all the facts and details necessary to understand the incident fully.
“This is a good example of the extremely confusing signals that the culture and the media and the Left send to young men, which is that you don’t hear much outrage on the Left … about the fact that New York subways and streets are extremely unsafe, and that if you are an everyday citizen walking or traveling, you may well be subject to violence,” Hawley said. “That’s just wiped away. We’re supposed to just live with that.”
But then, you’ve got a guy who actually puts himself in danger to try to help other people. You’ve got a subway passenger now saying, ‘He saved my life. He put himself in danger.’ That is automatically condemned before we even know all the facts. It’s like, ‘Oh, that must be wrong’ or ‘That must be crazy.’
Young men looking at this situation, Hawley said, will likely think, “Well, now, hold on. I thought that a man was supposed to be willing to put himself on the line. Isn’t that what we celebrate in the Greatest Generation, for example, a whole generation of young men who went out there and sacrificed for their country? But you’re telling me now, ‘If I do that, I’m going to be vilified, sued, charged, what have you.’”
As the criminal justice system plays out, Americans will learn the facts and the truth about what happened between Neely and Penny, Hawley said. But based on what is known?
“It sure looks like the guy who wanted to do good and wanted to protect others is being immediately condemned, while the criminality or potential criminality of the aggressor here is just sort of being overlooked,” he said.
A women who witnessed the altercation between Penny, 24, and Neely, 30, said that train passengers on a New York City subway train became increasingly uncomfortable when Neely, a homeless man with an extensive criminal record and documented history of mental illness, began loudly spewing violent and threatening remarks.
“I’m sitting on a train reading my book, and, all of a sudden, I hear someone spewing this rhetoric. He said, ‘I don’t care if I have to kill an “F,” I will. I’ll go to jail. I’ll take a bullet,’” the woman told Fox News.
“I’m looking at where we are in the tube, in the sardine can, and I’m like, ‘OK, we’re in between stations. There’s nowhere we can go,’” she said. “The people on that train, we were scared. We were scared for our lives.”
After Neely began using the words “kill” and “bullet,” the woman said, Penny stepped in. Penny restrained Neely in a headlock for several minutes, according to ABC News, during which time Neely reportedly lost consciousness. He was transported to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Penny remained on the scene to talk to police, as his lawyers have noted. He “turned himself in here voluntarily and with the sort of dignity and integrity that is characteristic of his dignity of service to this grateful nation,” defense attorney Thomas Kenniff said, ABC reported.
Penny’s lawyers have said he was acting in self-defense. A legal defense fund set up in the former Marine’s name has raised more than $2.6 million.
Meanwhile, Neely family attorney Lennon Edwards advocated for second-degree murder charges and another Neely family attorney, Donte Mills, has called for “people to look at those that may be there in that [uncomfortable or dangerous] situation and say, ‘Why?’ And, ‘How can I help them or make a difference?’”
Those who claim that Neely’s death was racially motivated have participated in protests in New York City. Prominent Democrats, such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., insist that Penny, who is white, “murdered” Neely, who was black.
The woman who witnessed the altercation told Fox News that Penny did not intend to kill Neely, but acted in self-defense.
“It was self-defense, and I believe in my heart that he saved a lot of people that day that could have gotten hurt,” she said.
“For men, and young men especially, you can see why [incidents like that of Penny and Neely] sort of pushes them, sort of, into neutral, so to speak,” Hawley said. “It gets them out of gear and into neutral, where it’s like, ‘Well, if I try to do something with my life, if I’m ambitious in terms of wanting to actually achieve something, if I put myself out there, I’m going to be told I’m “toxic.” I’m going to be told that I’m making the world worse. I’m going to be vilified. If I want to be heroic, I’m going to be told, “No, don’t do that.”’”
“On the other hand, if you do nothing, if you sit around in your parents’ basement and look at a screen all day, you feel terrible about yourself,” the senator continued, citing the dangers of pornography and social media consumption. “And this is what we’re seeing in men today.”
This all connects to why so many men of today feel that they lack purpose, are depressed, and feel alone, Hawley said.
“This is the cultural dysfunction that the Left’s ideology has led us to,” Hawley concluded. “And the antidote to that is a better vision. It’s a better message, to say, ‘No, we want you to be a hero. We want you to sacrifice yourself. We want you to put yourself on the line. We want you to try and serve others.’”
“That’s what you should do as a man,” he said. “You should try to take on the roles of father and husband and warrior. Those are good things, and we should encourage our young men to do that.”
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