Photos of Second Lieutenant Spenser Rapone openly advocating communism while in uniform went viral Monday morning, prompting West Point to release an official response.
Rapone posted images to Twitter and Instagram using the handle @punkproletarian advocating communism, including two on Twitter.
One tweet contained an image of Rapone wearing a Che Guevara t-shirt.
In case there was any lingering doubt, hasta la victoria siempre pic.twitter.com/0XrW38wcCk
— Commie Bebop🌹 (@punkproletarian) September 25, 2017
The second image showed Rapone with the sentence “communism will win” written on his uniform.
— Commie Bebop🌹 (@punkproletarian) September 24, 2017
The West Point Graduate wrote extensively about West Point’s history on his Medium blog, complaining it was linked with white supremacy:
Historically speaking, West Point’s Reconciliation Plaza evokes a white supremacist narrative that served as the climax of D.W. Griffith’s silent film The Birth of a Nation, in which white males of the North and the South reunited in order to carry out retributive violence against black people. That white people desired revenge against black people speaks to the grotesque fantasy perpetuated by this film.
Rapone has also been known to bemoan his fellow soldiers on social media, once tweeting that so-called lifers in the Army “lust for war and conflict” and “fetishize violence.”
Was an 11B 2010-2012, and am an 11A now, and can say lifers, senior NCOs and field grades lust for war and conflict. They fetishize violence
— Commie Bebop🌹 (@punkproletarian) July 26, 2017
West Point distanced itself from Rapone in their press release, noting the “U.S. Military Academy strives to develop leaders who internalize the academy’s motto of Duty, Honor, Country, and who live the Army values,” and stressing that Rapone’s actions “actions in no way reflect the values of the U.S. Military Academy or the U.S. Army.”
As figures of public trust, members of the military must exhibit exemplary conduct, and are prohibited from engaging in certain expressions of political speech in uniform. Second Lieutenant Rapone’s chain of command is aware of his actions and is looking into the matter. The academy is prepared to assist the officer’s chain of command as required.
Additionally, users on 4chan’s /pol/ quickly confirmed Rapone is currently under investigation by the Army.
The details of the investigation are not currently known, but Twitter users noted the Army prohibits using its uniforms to make political statements.
West Point cadets are under contract with the DoD. This is a punishable offense under the UCMJ. Making political statements while in unform.
— Jeff Martin (@JeffMar74325650) September 25, 2017
According to The Balance, the Department of Defense prohibits “any activity that may be reasonably viewed as directly or indirectly associating the Department of Defense or the Department of Homeland Security (in the case of the Coast Guard) or any component of these Departments with a partisan political activity or is otherwise contrary to the spirit and intention of this Directive shall be avoided.”
Daily Kos notes that wearing one’s uniform “when participating in activities such as public speeches, interviews, picket lines, marches, rallies or any public demonstration (including those pertaining to civil rights), which may imply Service sanction of the cause for which the demonstration or activity is conducted” is prohibited as well.