The life of West Point graduate 2nd. Lt. Spenser Rapone could hardly be more dichotomic. On one hand, he endured enemy fire during a several-month deployment to Afghanistan. On the other, he filled his social media accounts with nothing but disdain for America and its founding principles.
His Instagram has been taken down and his Twitter and Facebook profiles have been set to private. But from what can still be gathered online, Rapone posted on social media perhaps hundreds of posts expressing contempt for his country and support for communism, an ideology that calls for the forcible destruction of traditional values, principles, and freedoms, including those guaranteed by the Constitution.
The Army’s 10th Mountain Division launched an investigation into Rapone’s political activities, since service members are not permitted to promote political causes while in uniform, according to Army Times.
Rapone came under scrutiny for his Sept. 24 and Sept. 25 tweets. One included a picture of him showing the insides of his cap with “communism will win” written on it. The other showed him flashing a Che Guevara T-shirt under his uniform. Guevara was a communist leader, who, among other things, personally ordered hundreds executed, including children.
But the chasm between his career path and his political views had begun to form years before.
Rapone enlisted in the Army in 2010. It is not clear what was his mindset at the time, but he signed up for Ranger training, a mentally and physically intense eight-week course required to join the 75th Ranger Regiment.
He deployed with the regiment to Afghanistan in the summer of 2011 and earned the Combat Infantryman Badge granted to those who engaged in active combat and personally came under enemy fire. But before the year’s end, Rapone was “removed for standards” from the regiment, the Army Times reported.
The next year he went to West Point.
There it became clear he had a problem with discipline, with the Army, and with America in general.
Lt. Col. Robert Heffington flagged Rapone’s behavior to superiors in 2015, when Heffington taught history at West Point.
In his sworn statement, Heffington recalled multiple instances of Rapone’s “ridiculously unprofessional” behavior.
Once Heffington overheard an argument in a classroom next to his office. The argument was so loud and laced with profanity, that it disturbed his grading papers. After 40 minutes he decided to step in.
He went to the next classroom, where he found four cadets. One of them, Rapone, who wasn’t in uniform—a violation of the school’s regulations. Heffington asked who yelled. One cadet stood up and apologized. Heffington asked who else yelled. No one answered. Heffington asked again. Rapone didn’t stand up (another violation of regulations) and answered, “We’re in a private conversation here.”
Heffington told Rapone to stand up while talking to him. Rapone did and immediately said, “Sir, you don’t have the right to use my honor against me.” He did so in a “loud and extremely disrespectful tone,” Heffington noted.
Rapone was referring to the Cadet Honor Code, which states: “A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do.”
It is not clear what Rapone meant. Perhaps he was under the impression that Heffington was being unfair to require an honest answer.
Heffington told him to step out into the hallway where the conversation continued with Rapone’s repeatedly refusing to acknowledge that a superior officer was in the right to break up an argument so loud and long that it disturbed his work. Instead, Rapone piled up one retort after another, as if oblivious to the fact that disobeying and disrespecting a superior officer is unacceptable in the military.
“He seemed to look at me with nothing but contempt and hatred, no matter what I said or how I tried to reason with him to show him how wrong he was,” Heffington said.
When Heffington shared his concerns about Rapone’s behavior with some of his colleagues, one of them showed him Rapone’s Facebook page.
“What I saw completely stunned me,” Heffington said.
In a Nov. 16, 2015, post Rapone stated “[expletive] this country and its false freedom.” In another, he called a guest lecturer a “fascist” and in yet another he called West Point a part of an “imperialist narrative,” according to Heffington.
On the other hand, Rapone expressed nothing but praise for communism, Marxism, and Marx himself.
“Cadet Rapone’s statements bespeak either a severe mental or psychological disorder, or a genuine commitment to values and ideals wholly at odds with those of West Point and the Army,” Heffington said.
“If the former is true, he is dangerously unbalanced, and therefore not suited to military service. If the latter is true, he is a coward and a hypocrite who refuses to discontinue his association with an institution that, as he sees it, is a tool of an inherently unjust, immoral, and imperialist state.”
Heffington concluded by saying that Rapone “may at some point grow out of this phase, but the Army does not have the luxury of allowing him the opportunity to sort out his beliefs while charged with the sacred duty of leading American soldiers.”
Despite Heffington’s account, Rapone was commissioned in 2016. His online rants continued.
In one photo he posted online, Rapone posed with the Communist Manifesto, a core document of the communist ideology penned by Karl Marx. The manifesto calls for abolishment of all traditional values and principles through the means of violent revolution.
“Communism abolishes eternal truths, it abolishes all religion, and all morality, instead of constituting them on a new basis,” the document states.
In its concluding paragraph it states, “The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions.”
After Rapone’s September tweets gained media attention, West Point released a statement distancing itself from Rapone’s views.
On Oct. 3, Sen. Marco Rubio called for the Army to nullify Rapone’s commission and “pursue all available disciplinary options” against him. “Rapone should be required to pay back in full the cost of his education and the United States Military Academy should consider revoking his degree,” Rubio stated.