Over the past couple of weeks a lot of attention has been called to the case of an avowed communist, anti-American, and, indeed, anti-military graduate of the United States Military Academy names Spenser Rapone (see this and this). Rapone was an enlisted man who served briefly in 1st Ranger Battalion, was, according to reports, booted out of that unit, applied for a West Point appointment via the Military Academy Prep School from former Democrat Congressman Jason Altmire, graduated West Point and was commissioned in 2016.
Since his social media life has come to light it was reported that he was tossed out of Ranger School for engaging in verbal altercation with the Ranger School sergeant major.
The question hanging fire, though, has remained how did this guy get through four years at a very rigorous institution without his TAC officer and other active duty officers knowing about it. It appears he didn’t.
Yesterday, this sworn statement surfaced. It is by a former Assistant Professor of History at West Point, Lieutenant Colonel (retired) Robert Heffington. I say again, this is a sworn statement, something you only go to the trouble of filing when you want punitive action taken against someone. You can read the whole statement here.
The set up is that Heffington is in his office grading papers. He hears a loud argument coming from another office. He waits for a senior ranking cadet or one of the TAC officers to quieten it down. It doesn’t happen. So he goes to the office:
There were four cadets in the office, three of whom were in uniform and one in civilian clothes. One first class cadet in uniform stood up, admired to taking part in the argument, and apologized for being so loud. I replied “Okay, that’s one person. Who else is yelling?” I got no response to my question. I proceeded to say “I just asked a question and l want an answer–who else is yelling in here?” At that point CDT Spenser Rapone (the only cadet wearing civilian clothes), who was seated in the comer of the office, replied (while still seated) by saying, “We’re in a private conversation here.”
I’m having trouble even processing this exchange. A cadet telling a lieutenant colonel to FOAD? What kind of bizarro world is that?
I said, “Stand up when you speak to me.” CDT Rapone stood up and, before I could say anything else, said, “Sir you don’t have the right to use my honor against me!” in a loud and extremely disrespectful tone of voice.
Note here. “Using your honor against you” is a West Point concept. It has its genesis in one of the cheating scandals and it goes like this. The honor code as West Point says, “a cadet does not lie, cheat, or steal nor tolerate those who do.” Where this was determined to come up short was in asking a cadet a question the answer to which could lead to their being disciplined, particularly dismissed from the academy, and forcing them to choose between lying (their honor) or severe punishment. As I said, this is a peculiarly West Point idea that puts the onus on the superior to not ask really uncomfortable questions.
Anyway Heffington and Rampone go into the hallway and bitch at each other some more. Right now I’m starting to wonder what the f***ing f*** is going on because Rampone should be braced at attention and saying “yes, sir” a lot. A LOT.
I asked CDT Rapone what made him think it was okay to reply to a direct question from an officer with a response like that, and he replied, “Well you don’t have the right to barge into an office and interrupt a conversation you don’t have anything to do with!”
Finally, Heffington gets tired and tries to end the conversation:
The conversation continued for approximately five minutes, and every single statement or question I had for CDT Rapone was met with a ready and very disrespectful retort. In all honesty, I was waiting for him to simply say, “Yes, Sir. I apologize.”
“The next time I see you in this building, you’d better be wearing a uniform. You are not allowed to be in an academic building in civilian clothes.” As I was saying this, I noticed that CDT Rapone was not looking me in the eye. Instead, he was sneering at something on my uniform. I followed his eyes and then looked down to see what he was looking at; I then realized that he was staring at the name tag on my ACU top, as if memorizing my name. I interpreted this to be a thinly veiled threat, as if he was planning to take some sort of action against me. I admit this made me quite angry, and I said, “Make sure you spell my name right!”
Note that right now Heffington has started couching the statement in a near apologetic tone. He’s not just reporting Rapone, he’s going a long distance to ensure that he is seen as blameless.
Never in over 18 years has any Soldier spoken to me or treated me with such extreme disrespect as CDT Rapone did on the night of 17 November. His utter contempt for my rank and position as an Army officer was blatantly obvious and, to me, it indicates that CDT Rapone has a serious problem with military authority figures. Indeed, this is not the first time l have corrected CDT Rapone for ridiculously unprofessional behavior. he perpetually needs a haircut, and he never seems to get one even after being corrected for it. I have told him to get haircuts in the past, and I know other officers have, as well. Also, approximately one month ago, I walked out of my office during Dean’s Hour to find CDT Rapone lying down perpendicular to the wall in Thayer Hall, with his legs stretching out across the hallway. Civilians were detouring around his legs as they tried to make it down the hallway. I ordered him to sit up and get his legs out of the hallway, to which he replied, “Well, we have to wait here for Professor Hosein.” He said this while still seated. I told him that he may have to wait, but he certainly did not need to lie down across the hallway so his legs block the way for everyone else. Again, his demeanor was one of utter contempt for me, and apparently for the expectation that he would conduct himself in a professional manner.
Well, he certainly took that to heart, didn’t he. Again, I’m trying to imagine what is happening here because Rapone’s insubordinate behavior seems to have been widely known and no one cared. We wouldn’t tolerate that from a private, why would we tolerate it from someone who is being trained to hold a commission.
One officer told me that he had had serious misgivings about CDT Rapone for a long time, and he proceeded to show me CDT Rapone’s Facebook page. What I saw completely stunned me. From his various online rantings and posts, it appears that CDT Rapone is an avowed Marxist, which is completely out of line with the values of this nation and its Army. Moreover, CDT Rapone’s posts indicate that he hates West Point, the U.S. Army, and indeed this country. One post dated 16 November 2015 states, ” … Fuck this country and its false freedom.” He also labels a guest lecturer for MX400 a “fascist,” and he even implicitly justifies the actions of ISIS and blames the United States for terrorist attacks. He accuses West Point of being part of an “imperialist narrative,” and he is very accusatory of the United States in general. On the other hand, he has many posts praising Communism, Marxism, and Marx himself.
At best, Cadet Rapone’s online ideological screeds reveal the philosophical infatuations ofa precocious adolescent, rather like a high school boy who cannot stop spouting off about Nietzsche…At worst, however, 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. 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. He may at some point grow out of this phase, but the Army does not have the the luxury of allowing him the opportunity to sort out his beliefs while charged with the sacred duty of leading American Soldiers.
It is only possible to draw one conclusion for the fact that one of the West Point cadre took the time to write a damning statement, one that could very well have resulted in Rapone’s commie ass being booted from West Point, and that statement being ignored. There is only one reason that his insubordination was tolerated. There can be only one reason that his social media presence was known to other faculty members and nothing done about it. There can be only one reason that he felt free to shoot off his mouth to an senior officer who was also an assistant professor. Someone at West Point was protecting him. Why? Who knows? It could be anything from sympathy to his views to gutlessness to gay sex. None of that really matters because it is obvious that Rapone and the faculty thought Rapone was immune from any kind of serious disciplinary action.