Photos of a West Point alumnus holding a pro-Colin Kaepernick “Communism Will Win” sign while in uniform is riling up the military community.
Images of U.S. infantry Officer Spenser Rapone reached a popular military news site on Tuesday and set off a robust debate on NFL national anthem protests, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback that started it all in 2016, and the shock of seeing an unapologetic communist from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
“I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure Colin Kaepernick wasn’t protesting in favor of communism. #ThatGuy,” wrote “Doctrine Man,” the moderator of a well-known Facebook page frequented by active military personnel and veterans.
Readers were shocked to see Mr. Rapone, whose Twitter handle is “Commie Bebop,” raising a clenched fist in support of Mr. Kapernick; another photo featured the officer revealing a Che Guevara shirt under his uniform.
LawNewz.com by Dan Abrams confirmed Mr. Rapone’s identity Monday evening with the officer himself, but he said was on a field exercise until Friday and would be unable to comment for the time being.
Gateway Pundit then aggregated a host of photos showing the officer promoting communism with Twitter hashtags like #CommunismWillWin, #Marxwasright, and #VeteransForKaepernick.
“Old school grunt here, I was in Berlin when the Wall fell,” wrote Rick Wynne on the Doctrine Man Facebook page. “I can tell you I would NEVER have expected to see photos like these. Wow! I mean, wow! What the hell has happened to the Army? No body policed this crap up when it happened?”
“This old First Sergeant recommends that this prior enlisted soldier be given UCMJ action, a thunk on the head for being stupid and a one-way ticket to the front gate,” added John Zehmisch.
Reader Stephen Stout concurred, saying, “He needs to be discharged for conduct unbecoming of an officer and failure to uphold his oath to defend the Constitution of the United States. Communist extremism is not compatible with being a Soldier in the U.S. Army. He needs to be punished by UCMJ to the fullest extent.”
An op-ed posted on Medium on Aug. 16 by Mr. Rapone — just days after violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, over Confederate monuments — called for the nation to “come together and dismantle [America’s] racist structures, both in word, but more importantly, in deed.”
West Point issued a statement Thursday afternoon saying the officer’s 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,” the statement read. “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.”