Why the Online Right deifies Daniel Penny
The ex-Marine who killed Jordan Neely has been compared to a Roman emperor
In certain sections of social media — mainly Twitter and Telegram — the Online Right has been turning Daniel Penny into a hero. That’s the same Daniel Penny who put Jordan Neely, a homeless man who was bothering passengers on a Manhattan subway car, in a fatal chokehold at the beginning of this month.
Over the last few days, Penny has been compared by the Right to Gallic chieftains, Roman emperors and works of art created to honour them. While the Left has painted him as a wanton killer, to the Right he is representative of exactly the type of person we should all strive to be — someone who is willing to protect others where the state won’t (or can’t). In other words, if the police won’t act, brave vigilantes will. Neely wasn’t the effete, harmless Michael Jackson impersonator portrayed by the mainstream media: he was a threat that an ineffective policing system should have either locked behind bars or, ideally, placed in a mental health institute.
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It would be easy to write off the Right’s use of heroic imagery as fandomisation. But there may also be another, more deep-seated reason for this response, too. The Online Right’s pattern of comparing the men they see to mythic and historical heroes is undoubtedly reflective of a desire for greatness. It seems as though any person who might embody this greatness, whether warranted or not, becomes quickly deified. Kyle Rittenhouse and Blake Masters also come to mind, but one could argue that the dozens of people who found audiences after high-profile cancellations are also placed in this position.
This speaks to a yearning for a strong leader who embodies the group’s values. From that perspective, the cycle of comparing these characters to Great Men past isn’t so silly or irreverent. The meme-making isn’t making light of murder, as some have implied, or at least that isn’t the case for everyone.
Putting aside the fundamental difference in understanding for what unfolded in the Rittenhouse and Penny trials, the Right, even more than the Left, sees a gap in society. For them, America sorely lacks people who are willing to live and die for their values: people who are worth believing in. Penny isn’t just a man who instilled order in a Manhattan subway car: he’s symbolic of the promise that someone, somewhere, might help instil order in a chaotic country.
Where the Left is constantly looking for demons and martyrs to those demons, the Right is frequently looking for heroes to lead them to greatness. It is worth understanding — or at least considering — this fact before jumping to criticism.
Are the “Online Right” (whoever they may be) deifying Daniel Penny?
Or are people merely pushing back against the “Online Left” who have been vilifying him?
Without re-hashing the details of this one incident, perhaps what is more concerning is that if Neely had indeed followed through on his threats, injuring or even killing someone on that train, we – the news-consuming public – would never have heard about it. It would be chalked up as just another attack on the NY Subway – there were dozens of such violent incidents just this last weekend.
There have been 28 homicides on the NY Subway since Biden took office. Can anyone name any of the victims?
It is only when the identities of the victims and “perpetrators” serve the preferred narrative that it even rates a mention in the news.
Correction: Neely wasn’t “bothering people” he was threatening them with physical harm. Neely had 42 prior arrests, including 4 for assault, and was well known on the subway system as a dangerous menace (per multiple Reddit threads).
Another correction. Penny wasn’t a vigilante. He was trying to protect himself and others. He wasn’t seeking vengeance or trying to impose justice.
Yet another correction:
” Why the Online Right deifies Daniel Penny”
Hahaha…..young people today.. I think what her headline read like in her University trained brain was
‘ OMG! Why the Online Right Literally deifies Daniel Penny!!!”
And to think, one day these products of our failed higher education systems, like this writer, will be running things –
because no one deifies this guy, because that is insane.
People hold him in respect. They admire him in this testosterone deficient world. Most have watched some anti-social thugs acting up and thought – ‘I wish someone had the nerve to do something about them’ wile studiously avoiding eye-contact.
And according to the reports he was not eager to jump in; only when nobody else seemed willing to stop this dangerous lunatic.
Penny stepped in and did something unlike me a few years ago.
I noticed a couple of burley white thugs starting to beat up a black youth in an Underground carriage. No one stirred. Well there I was an elderly man further down the carriage feeling I ought to do something. I did after all have a furled umbrella that could with a few well directed thrusts have wrought some damage on the thugs, but thoughts as to whether I would end up being beaten up or perhaps charged by the police for causing injury to the youths and being a vigilante swirled through my mind before the three tumbled out of the carriage and were gone at the next station and left me feeling bad about my irresolution.
I have not forgotten that incident when I failed the test of decisive courage.
But don’t you want your men to be heroic? Gentlemen who will sacrifice their safety for the safety of others, who will step in to protect people weaker than them from unforgiving harms. Men who will go to the battlefields to protect their women and children from invaders. Men who will give safe passage to women first, and go down with the ship. It’s not as leaders, but as people who are willing to risk all for the safety of others. A hero doesn’t lead us to greatness – they don’t do it for reward – instead they sacrifice themselves so the weak might live when they are gone.
Because the world is past that totally – now it is Mulvany in his bath tub with a Bud Light instead of some cowboy by his Pickup Truck popping open a cold one after a hard day’s work – Mulvany is the Nu-manhood in its ideal.
The perfect example. To protect the old and rich from the sniffles the entire West Locked down the children for 2 years; destroying their education, mental health, physical health, and future health and earnings.
This is not how John Wayne would have done things. No more calls of ‘Women And Children To The Lifeboats!’
Now its – ‘will the Minorities and Equity Deserving please make their way to the lifeboats’.
haha, my last post:
Awaiting for Approval
Redacted, Censored, de-platformed, haha – that is how not bowing to the agenda is handled in today’s world, it is canceled. As they are out to cancel the entire life of Mr Penny.
The Penny debacle is much bigger than this single event. It is the breach of the social contract between citizen and state. The state fails to protect its citizens, both the mentally ill and ordinary people, and persecutes those who step in to fill the void. IMO, this event symbolizes the breakdown of the western empire.
The Left has left ordinary people feeling vulnerable. They feel vulnerable for a reason. The media cannot be trusted to report incidents like this with anything even approaching objectivity, so it isn’t any wonder that people align themselves to different perspectives. It doesn’t, however, take a genius or an objective media to assess what is happening in Chicago, Portland, New York City, San Francisco, etc., etc. Progressivist social and economic policies have led to rampant crime, poverty, homelessness and drug addiction. Americans are fed up with this insanity. They will react.
It’s not “progressivist social and economic policies” that are feeding urban problems. It’s the right-wing coalition of developers and NIMBYs who have made the rents so damned high that normal people can’t survive while living normal lives.
In the big cities, all those real estate developers donate exclusively to Democrats, and all those rich urban NIMBYS are woke as the day is long and vote 70:30 for Dems.
The Conservatives and Moderates all left for the suburbs or the Sun Belt 30 years ago.
In my native Los Angeles, the coalition is Latino ‘progressives’ and socialists allied with BIPoC ‘community activists’ and labor unions to relentlessly build up L.A. into an imitation of NYC: high density, no environmental survey or parking requirements, assuming everyone will take public transport, no way for neighbors to weigh in. My past three councilmen have been indicted for corruption related to bribes, including from Korean developers. 92% Democrat, 87% Hispanic district. No right-wing cabal in this totally blue-city-state. And yeah, rent’s too high. But who will rent little properties when the city is totally pro-tenant btw? They get free legal aid and the city treats every landlord as if this equates with slumlord.
So this forces Neely onto the subway where he threatens people? This forces homelessness because if the rents were lower all those homeless people would pay rent and get off the dole? This creates drug use which goes unchallenged in the streets of major cities?
I fear it is this endemic substitutionary thinking, blame shifting, and choice to ignore the plain specifics of a very straight-forward incident as the major contributing issue to the general social demise.
When the Titanic went down into the dark, cold deep, men shouted “Women and children first!” Today’s brave leftists will shoulder their way onto the boat, pushing aside women and children alike.
It would be “LGBTQ+ and Persons of Colour first! Privileged? Wait your turn!”
They’d just claim that they ARE women, then muscle their way into the boat.
I think it also a reaction to the mainstream’s demonization of everyone whose politics they don’t like. So burning, looting, murdering people was ‘mostly peaceful protest’ for BLM – but walking into the Capital Building was an armed insurrection (despite the lack of any arms) with the repeated lie that capitol police were killed. Similarly in Canada donating $25 to the convoy political cause – despite being perfectly legal – had you called a Nazi, etc, by our PM but burning down churches was ‘understandable’ in his opinion if you did it to protest (the entirely speculative) residential mass graves. People are tired of being victimized by the progressives favourite ‘equity deserving people’ without even being allowed to defend themselves.
Then there is the fact that law enforcement has collapsed in certain parts of America.
And according to Pip Fallow in parts of County Durham UK.
Which is utter nonsense. I live and work in the area.
Not “collapsed”; it is being driven out by design.
Where the Left is constantly looking for demons and martyrs to those demons, the Right is frequently looking for heroes to lead them to greatness.
Or maybe the Left is hell bent on controlling everything that people do as part of the long march to some imaginary Utopia. As a consequence they have to find excuses for people that are unwilling (or unable) to go along. Part of that mindset is to excuse people because they have been oppressed (whether that is true or not). The other part is to cancel or traduce people who challenge that long march by their words or actions.
I see my comment is ‘awaiting approval’ again. I wish Unherd would give us its list of wrongspeak and thought crimes as I can never tell why it deletes some of my comments.
They are just working to protect our ‘Purity Of Essence‘. They do it for our good.
It may be too late for me.
Yes, my comment that went into “awaiting approval” overnight was merely speculated about Christ’s approach had the Good Samaritan arrived when the attack was occurring. Pretty anodyne stuff but perhaps anything Christian is controversial to the algorithm. I did repost deleting the reference to the Jew who fell among thieves as I suspected any reference to Jews might be triggering but that didn’t help. Despite publishing a wide range of authors the Unherd algorithm is easily triggered and seems to have a singularly woke personality.
The right values courage and initiative; the left values conformism and submission.
In other news …
In the US there is a subset of people that delights in glorifying criminals while blaming innocent people for events that took place long before they were born.
Was Jordan Neely “bothering” passengers in a sparsely occupied car (in which case he was just a bully) or was the car well occupied (and the passengers were unwilling to confront him)?
In the first case Daniel Petty was doing the brave thing; in the latter the passengers failed to act on their own civic duty.
According to many experts on AI within 3 years 20% of all jobs will be lost to ChatGPT. In 20 years 80% of all jobs will be lost.
Currently we spend 7 X more on an Old person per year than we do on a child.
This is not sustainable and in a dozen or so years the entire Tax revenues will be needed Just to pay interest on the National Debts. All that the Government spends will have to be borrowed, This does not work.
If you do not understand that the results will be total chaos and destruction of civilization you are not paying attention.
Men like Mr Penny are someone you need to be close to – because it will be Lord of the Flies out there. This is what your government is engineering society to become for you. Hell.
Lionel Shriver ‘s novel “The Mandibles” is an eerie and convincing projection of your thesis. It scared me!
The parable of the Good Samaritan illustrates who Christ thought was our neighbour when it came to the injunction to love our neighbour as ourselves.
The question is what would he have expected the Good Samaritan to do if he had passed the road earlier and come upon the men attacking the Jew. Should he have put the attacker in a chock hold with the risk he might die or passed by on the other side until he had come across an official he could report the attack to or just hung back to dress his wounds after the thieves had finished their attack in case he might injure one of the attackers?
A pity Christ didn’t cover that scenario.
In a way, maybe he did.
When Jesus beheld a manifest abuse of worship by Mammon, he overturned the tables and drove out the money changers, telling them they had turned a place meant for worship into “a den of thieves.” He did not hurl abuse at them, or break any of their bones, or caused injury of any kind except, perhaps to their pride. He was very clear about the evil the money changers knew they were committing in their various extortionate ways.
And consider this account in the gospel of John, Chapter 18n verses 4-6:
4 Jesus, knowing everything that was going to happen to him, went out and said to them, “Whom are you looking for?” (Note: These were a contingent of soldiers armed with clubs and swords.)
5 They answered him, “Jesus the Nazorean.”* He said to them, “I AM.” Judas his betrayer was also with them.
6 When he said to them, “I AM,” they turned away and fell to the ground.
I think if Jesus had encountered any highway robbers, he would have been able to subdue them without violence. As it was, he had circulated in some pretty rough neighborhoods.
I thinkthe article is a lot more sensitive than some of the posters have given it credit for. She could have been more generous in her description of events but she is clearly coming at things from the left so what do people expect? The main thrust of the essay is in the last 2 paragraphs and would have been interesting if it had been expanded upon. It is a shame she had to include the factual rundown that preceded it shich was obviously going to be picked apart. Tell her to go back and give us a proper article on thise last paragraphs.
Have the details of what actually happened been placed in the public domain? Isn’t there a court process/trial with witnesses yet to come?
Both sides should be cautious about jumping to a conclusion here until further illumination. We’ll then have a better appreciation of what degree of risk was present and what degree of ‘reasonable force’ in self defence was used.
In the meantime if we are looking for some heroes, go out to Ukrainian front-line fighting for their country. Plenty there.
Have the details of what actually happened on the frontline been placed in the public domain?
“It is worth understanding — or at least considering — this fact before jumping to criticism.” Jeez and I thought this article dripped with criticism…of a backhanded kind. The Right doesn’t support Penny for any of the reasons given, they support him because he will be fried by the Left for stopping a deranged criminal whom the Left deifies to such a degree that their police minions are now prosecuting Penny. The Right would love to stand up against this anarcho-tyranny, but they have jobs and families and cannot afford to spend decades in jail. So when somebody like Penny stands up they cheer him. It’s as simple as that; no need to intellectualize it and certainly not in a way that humiliates the Right.
Perhaps he will go the same way as Vercingetorix?
Someone his country values enough to raise a monument to? Seems fair enough.
Attempted to recast comment about the Good Samaritan that disappeared into moderation for some reason by renaming Christ and leaving out reference to the Jew. No idea what the algorithm picked up that wasn’t PC. Near duplicate post now deleted.
The ‘online right’. Hmmm How about people can see a judicial lynching in process; it’s a reflection or what is happening to thousands of people albeit not as publicly; and we don’t like it.
“The Online Right” is what exactly?
Just a thought: “… a yearning for a strong leader who embodies the group’s values” – might that be a step along the path to fascism?
That is indeed what the reader is meant to think. The ideological tramlines are very clear. Happily UnHerd readers are in general more astute than that, and are more than willing to pull the emergency cord and exit the vehicle when they see where it is taking them.
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