The right wing’s embrace of Daniel Penny is eerily familiar
Cue the newest hero on the MAGA celebrity circuit: Daniel Penny, the former marine whose golden ticket to infamy was allegedly choking to death 30-year-old Jordan Neely, a Black homeless man with mental health issues on a New York City subway. Penny has been charged with second-degree manslaughter. He happens to be white, and is using self-defense as the excuse for his actions.
This article originally appeared in The Independent and was reprinted with permission.
Sound familiar? Who can forget Kyle Rittenhouse, the AR-15 toting 17-year old who successfully claimed self-defense when he traveled out-of-state and killed two men, severely wounding another during a violent evening of protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Since then, baby-faced Rittenhouse has been a frequent guest on FOX News, and a repeat visitor to the MAGA king’s lair in Mar-a-Lago. His very first interview after the shootings was with the now-unemployed Tucker (will-work-for-lies) Carlson.
At the time, Republican lawmakers rushed to the teen’s defense, including Florida Rep Matt Gaetz, Arizona Rep Paul Gosar and the forgettable former North Carolina Rep Madison Cawthorn. (Recently, Cawthorn pled guilty for trying to smuggle a loaded handgun through security at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport, his second such attempt.)
GiveSendGo, a Christian fund-raising site, “the place where help and hope go hand-in-hand,” was instrumental in hauling in a half million dollars from donors to aid in Rittenhouse’s defense. Here was the pitch: “Kyle Rittenhouse just defended himself from a brutal attack by multiple members of the far-leftist group ANTIFA – the experience was undoubtedly a brutal one, as he was forced to take two lives to defend his own…Let’s give back to someone who bravely tried to defend his community.”
Rittenhouse was acquitted of the charges against him, but is now being sued by John Huber, the father of Anthony Huber, who was one of those shot to death by Rittenhouse. GiveSendGo has already raised $243,000 for that latest lawsuit.
So it should come as no surprise that the same online business is now raising funds for Daniel Penny’s defense. The campaign, set up by the New York City law firm, Raiser & Kenniff, PC, states that, “Daniel Penny is, a twenty-four-year-old college student and decorated Marine veteran, facing a criminal investigation stemming from him protecting individuals on a NYC subway train from an assailant who later died.”
Money raised so far? $1.5 million from more than 20,000 donors. Christopher Ekstrom donated $500. “Marines like Mister Penny MADE AMERICA 🇺🇸 GREAT. Thanks for being a MAN! I’m sorry our sick society is punishing you.”
An anonymous donor, who contributed $1,001 to the cause, wrote, “Daniel Penny is an American hero. He had the bravery to stand up and do the right thing. No tears for the [man] who died.”
Republicans, always ready to appeal to the politics of division, have rushed to embrace Penny. Florida Governor and future presidential candidate Ron DeSantis tweeted, “We stand with Good Samaritans like Daniel Penny. Let’s show this Marine … America’s got his back.”
Georgia Rep Marjorie Taylor Greene characterized Neely as, “a violent criminal who should have been behind bars.”
On the fateful day when Neely and Penny’s paths crossed, the “violent criminal” was shouting that he was hungry and thirsty. He was crying out for help, help that never came. He did not deserve to die in such a brutal manner. The system failed him. We failed him.
Taylor Greene, who fancies herself a Christian, apparently forgot this Biblical instructive from Matthew 25:35-40: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink.”
Jordan Neely was not a violent criminal or an assailant. He was not a “thug.” He was a Black male. With the increased embrace of “stand your ground” laws, and with the full-throated endorsement of the bellowing MAGA mob, violence carried out by white men is mostly forgiven, if not encouraged.
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