I like to say that yesterday, I woke up and chose violence but in the manner of rhetoric. I was annoyed because of some personal matters but then I became annoyed at the flatulating progressives who are using this viral moment to get attention and the overly simplistic conservatives who think locking up everyone is the solution to everything.
I thought you did a great job of humanizing Mr. Neely without turning him into a Christ figure. I found myself able to empathize with the tragic situation and not drawn, one way or the other, to partisan battle lines. And I think he was failed, although not by any single group of the same political stripe, but rather by his fellow humans.
Thanks for writing what you write.
Great article. And I have to agree with you. If NY’ers don’t care why should someone like me that lives over 1000 miles away care?
This piece is incredibly moving and thought provoking. I am so glad you chose to pursue this path. You are promoting change. Thank you.
Still the best take I’ve seen all week.
By a long shot. Thank you Adam.
On another note, I wonder if there’s a way to track the increase (or decrease) in donations either directly or via some sort of proxy to political parties, candidates, or groups such as Act Blue or Win Red after events such as this?
Leaving these mentally ill people loose on the street is deliberate. It's another step to to breaking down rules, norms, and the importance of families.
It's true that in the 1970's and before, insane asylums were horrid, cruel places to confine people. Geraldo Rivera became famous when he exposed this. And he was right to do it. Instead of fixing what was broken, Progressives argued, these people were just living an alternate lifestyle. If they want to sleep on the street and panhandle, who are they hurting?
That was the thin end of the wedge. Now they shit and pee in the street. They are violent to other people. People who are doing those things should be institutionalized, in humane conditions.
This isn't just my detached opinion. My cousin is bi-polar. She physically threatened her parents. Her brother and sisters took the necessary steps to have her institutionalized. Yeah, it's sad. I wish it wasn't necessary. But if they hadn't done that, she probably would be dead by now.
Nice work. You pointed out the most obvious problem with our elected officials who use incidents like these to practice performance art. Who can forget AOC’s shameless photo op weeping tearlessly for nonexistent victims outside the border detention facility fence? Just as we don’t care to hear actor’s politics, we also don’t care to see politicians act.
Our celebrities in both professions are safely insulated from experiences with the mentally ill on subways and living next to tent cities. It’s hard to take seriously anything they have to say about it. As your article indicates, the only concern for politicians is how best they can use it as a vehicle for campaigning, fundraising and blaming the other party for the problem. They can’t be bothered with solutions.
I read your Newsweek piece and found it to be a thoughtful commentary. I have no issue with anything you wrote as far as that goes. The issue I have is that this seems to be the state of affairs people are comfortable with. The inhabitants of NYC keep voting for the “progress” advocated for by the grifters seeking / occupying office, and ignore the obvious outcomes of the policies (that appear to be exactly the opposite of what common sense would prescribe) advocated for and implemented. As a former Long Island kid I spent time unsupervised in the city in the ‘70s and ‘80s during the previous heyday of decay. Giuliani was elected mayor and made very significant changes which resulted in decades of improvement and seemingly increased prosperity...and the pendulum swung back and folks decided that it was cruel to maintain standards of behavior, so Warren Wilhelm, aka Comrade Diblasio, was elected to implement progressive change. The rest is history - crime, decline, and decay. Mrs. Diblasio was a “champion” of the mentally ill, wasn’t she? She managed to help make a billion bucks disappear without a trace if I’m not mistaken. If I sound unsympathetic because I am. Advocating for the mentally ill has been nothing more than a feel-good grift starting in the ‘60s. It seems like it’s only getting worse. Normal citizens have been abandoned in the name of the homeless, the mentally ill and criminals - with quite a bit of overlap between those groups - and I for one am watching from a distance for signs that the bottom is approaching. Mr. Neely’s death is a sign that normal folks are starting to reach their limit. The pushback will be terrible if the pandering morons in charge don’t course correct, and soon...
Adam, thank you for the article. Wow. You nailed it. I'm 60 with 5 kids and grandkids hoping the country will be a better place for them. This will only happen if people like you have the courage to say the truth. The press is needed more than ever. Daylight at last.
This is a thought provoking and incredibly decent piece. It is a struggle to resist being pulled into a contest of sides and instead recognise the overwhelming tragedy affecting the real people concerned. Thank you, Adam, for presenting the circumstances with honesty and compassion. I’ve reset myself again.
Thank you so much for your commentary on this. I noticed that the only people talking about Mr. Neely on my social media don't live in New York and don't seem to understand the reality of homelessness. I'm also unsure why photos of him dressed up as a pedophile are supposed to make him sympathetic, but we'll set that aside.
I have felt scared by mentally ill homeless people, and the left seems to think it's problematic to admit that. No, I'm saying there's a real problem that needs solutions. I'm saying that social workers aren't a magic bullet for people in crisis and we need intervention before they get there. Bear in mind that I work in indigent communities, including with the homeless, and I'm regularly "liberalsplained" about these issues by people who work in tech but read a think piece about homeless people once. The only Black people they've ever spoken to are either also college-educated or pour their coffee. They think that marginalized groups are monoliths whom they can use for social or political points.
I don't accept that people should live this way and I certainly don't accept that people who have never been in NYCHA housing or don't ride the subway every day should be the voices on this subject. Politicians, instead of pulling the nonsense that you described, should actually listen to the homeless about what they need and provide adequate services and housing. No locking people up, just giving them what they need to - hear me out - lead a decent life.
Not one of the liberals or politicians you describe would deign to talk to Jordan Neely, let alone look at him. They would've been terrified if they were on a train with him. Pretending otherwise is a disservice to him and to motivating people to take action. How about, like you say, we actually take this moment to look at ourselves and our society and put pressure on our lawmakers to actually do something?
And by the way, I'm a new fan - I can't wait to read your book!
Compassion: The ability to recognize the suffering of others and then take action to help.
Government Compassion: The ability to recognize the suffering of others and then take action to allow even more suffering, death, and despair. By not only encouraging it, but subsidizing it. People living in squalor is not normal! People shooting up in plain sight is not normal! Dropping your pants and shitting and passing wherever is not normal! As Adam said, we need truth tellers to rise up and not avert our eyes to what's happening. 30 years ago on this day I had two people who made me look at the reality of my life. I was addicted to drugs and alcohol, and homeless living under a bridge. One was my parole officer, the other was a lady who did street outreach and later became my sponsor. Who told me many times that I didn't need to do what I was doing. One could put me in prison and slow down the process of death. The other could save me from the slow process of death. The difference between then and now is that back in the 90s the government didn't try to kill us with compassion or subsidize our deaths. I still do street outreach, but it's harder today because we have to compete with a government that is more worried about sound bites, and virtue.
By the comments on the Newsweek article, you cut through the noise allowing humanity to come through. Congratulations, we need truth and compassion. LA is now the same as NY. We walk around the homeless, and when we spot them, we do as you say treating them like they are bears in the wild making no eye contact. Five years ago I would have investigated someone slumped over on the sidewalk. Now I walk around them not knowing if they are alive or not. The last time I rode the subway, I was frightened which was an unsettling experience as I don't scare easily. I could have got off and taken an Uber, but I was too embarrassed to do so. I saw elderly women sitting alone and realized this was a daily occurrence for them. I watched a young woman sit next to a tired-looking man. The whole time she screamed '"Get right in your head." I wanted to switch cars, but I thought I needed to stay in case things turned violent. The man must have noticed because as we exited at the final stop, he said with exhaustion, "This is my experience every day."
Excellent article providing heart wrenching details about the life of Mr. Neely. Our politicians on both sides should enact legislation for increased mental health centers to address the needs of these forgotten constituents. It’s a complex problem requiring various solutions impacting other areas like housing, drug and alcohol addiction etc. but the time to do something is now.
I believe the ones you named above and others like them, the ones responsible for legislating, don't care, but many others would like to see people in need get help. Most of us are busy just taking care of our families and immediate community. Donating dollars or volunteering at a food pantry or shelter can help some and many people do volunteer, and many get helped on their feet, but until we consider a public policy of institutionalizing those who cannot care for themselves, I believe the desperation and numbers will increase. Then there's the need to try and head off some of the causes that lead people to the streets, the 2 most important in my opinion being drugs and broken families. Perhaps we need more draconian sentencing for drug traffickers. I can't get the video of the massive "gang member" prison in El Salvador out of my head. Desperate times. How about mandatory pre-marital counseling or requiring the marriage contract to detail out the duties and responsibilities of each party, the financial goals, reproductive goals, etc.? How about getting rid of no-fault divorce? A marriage certificate provides benefits to the contracted parties and a failure of that contract often has costs to society, especially if children are involved.
Jordan I so appreciate your perspective. Thank you
What needs to be done is far more difficult than providing homeless people with mental health services, drug rehab, or a place to live. The problems of mental illness and drug addiction reflect a sickness in our society's soul. We have lost our religious institutions, our communities, our neighbors, and even our families. Now we look to the government to fix this? Seems all the solutions have already been tried in various forms. I hate put a pessimistic spin on this, but I just don't see how our elected reps are going to fix this problem.