Spenser Rapone

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Spenser Rapone is a US Army officer and Democratic Socialists of America member.

Socialism 2018

Spenser Rapone was a proposed featured speaker of the Socialism 2018, an annual socialist gathering sponsored by the International Socialist Organization held in Chicago, Illinois in July 2018.[1] Go to the main page of ISO Socialism Conference...

Radical soldier

Rasheed Hosein, a professor of Middle East history was in charge of Second Lieutenant Spenser Rapone’s development at West Point.

At West Point, Hosein had mentored Rapone. The two apparently traveled together to India together in 2014 and maintained a close relationship until Rapone graduated in May 2016.

Also during that time, Rapone’s Facebook posts grew increasingly radical and leftist.

Rapone’s activities caught the attention of command authorities this week after he posted photos of himself in his West Point uniform while promoting communism on social media.

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On Sunday, Rapone posted a picture of himself in his West Point uniform holding a sign that said, “Communism will win” tucked under his cover, or hat, raising a clenched left fist.

He tweeted the photo along with the words #VeteransForKaepernick — a reference to football player Colin Kaepernick, the first player to kneel during the national anthem at a football game to protest racism.

On Monday, Rapone tweeted another picture of himself in his West Point uniform, exposing a Che Guevara T-shirt underneath with the caption “In case there was any lingering doubt, hasta la victoria siempre.”

It is against Army regulations to wear the uniform “in connection with the furtherance of any political or commercial interests” or when participating in “public demonstrations” unless authorized to do so.

After the photo garnered widespread attention on Twitter, West Point quickly issued a statement distancing itself from Rapone.

“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. Second Lieutenant Rapone’s actions in no way reflect the values of the U.S. Military Academy or the U.S. Army,” it said.

“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,” it said.

“The appropriate Command authorities are reviewing the situation,” an Army spokesman said.

The Army confirmed that Rapone graduated from West Point in 2016 and is now serving as a second lieutenant with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, based in Fort Drum, New York.

The unit issued its own statement that focused on uniform regulations.

“Both the Department of Defense and the Army have longstanding policies encouraging soldiers to participate in the democratic process. However, the Army has strict rules regarding the wear and appearance of Army uniforms.”

Rapone’s activism while in uniform appears to be much broader than those two photos.

On August 7, Rapone posted a photo on his Instagram account of himself in his Army uniform wearing a Democratic Socialists of America Membership card that says, “official socialist organizer.”

Rapone has also tweeted a number of provocative statements, including calling Defense Secretary Jim Mattis “the most vile, evil f*ck in the current administration” on June 7 from Columbus, Georgia.

A spokeswoman for the 10th Mountain Division confirmed that Rapone had started Ranger School at Fort Benning, Georgia — near Columbus — in February 2017 but did not complete the course.

On February 11, he posted an article titled “Know Your (Gun) Rights! A Primer for Radicals — IT’S GOING DOWN.” He also reposted a meme from a group called Anarchist People of Color criticizing “white privilege.”

Rapone posted on several forums in support of Chelsea Manning, the Army soldier who went to jail for leaking classified intelligence to WikiLeaks. He posted January 18 on Facebook, “May we all learn from her example of what integrity and strength of conviction truly entails.”

Sometime last year, he posted a picture on Instagram of an Antifa flag in his room next to a print of Che Guevara. “New room decor … until it’s flying proudly in the streets. #AntiFa,” he wrote, according to a picture obtained before he took down his account.

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Rapone has also posted on Facebook a picture of himself holding up the Communist Manifesto, with his Army dress uniform hanging in the closet in the background and a number of posts showing opposition for Trump policies and administration officials and support for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) at least since 2015.

His father, a local official for Lawrence County, Pennsylvania, issued his own statement, disavowing his son’s political views. “In regards to my son Spenser Rapone, I disavow his political views and overall politics. I am very disappointed in the direction he has chosen and as his father it greatly saddens me,” Richard L. Rapone posted on his Facebook page, adding:

As a young man, Spenser personified patriotism and in high school was a member of the Civil Air Patrol. He applied to be a West Point cadet and at that time he as not selected. He enlisted in the United States Army right out of high school. Later, he served as an Army Ranger and was deployed to Afghanistan on special mission.

He applied once again to West Point and was accepted. It’s my belief when he returned back from Afghanistan there was a notable difference in his political views. Spenser is my son and I love him dearly however I do not like nor condone his politics, his actions or behavior.

According to photos on Rapone’s Facebook page, he became close to Hosein, a Ph.D. in Islamic history from the University of Chicago. The two appear to have traveled together to the Taj Mahal in March 2014, according to pictures posted on his Facebook page.

On March 18, 2014, Hosein posted on his Facebook page, “Back from the Taj [Mahal] and it delivered.” Two days later, on March 20, 2104, Hosein posted a picture of himself, wearing a long tunic, and Rapone, wearing a turban and a long tunic, with the caption: “The brothers are gonna work it out.”

Two days later, on March 20, 2104, Hosein posted a picture of himself, wearing a long tunic, and Rapone, wearing a turban and a long tunic, with the caption, “The brothers are gonna work it out.”

On March 23, 2014, Rapone posted about anti-corporatism and racism. On March 24, 2014, Rapone posted a picture of himself and Hosein in front of the Taj Mahal.

Later that year, on August 19, 2014, Rapone posted a picture that showed them in a classroom with another soldier. “The Intelligentsia,” the caption read. Hosein was tagged in the picture, suggesting they were Facebook friends at the time.

A review of Rapone’s Facebook page shows that over time, since 2014, his posts became increasingly anti-racism, anti-Israel, pro-Muslim, pro-Communist, anti-military, and anti-police.

On January 5, 2015, he posted a Slate.com article calling for the abolishment of West Point. As a Facebook friend since 2014, Hosein would have been aware of Rapone’s Facebook postings between 2014 and when he graduated in 2016. A search of Rapone’s page shows they are still Facebook friends.

Hosein’s bio on the West Point website lists Rapone as one of two cadets he last advised at West Point.

Hosein began teaching at West Point in July 2011. Previously, he served as the director of Public Education for the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Chicago.

He was also Muslim Lay Chaplain at West Point, Officer in Charge of the Muslim Cadet Association, and Emeritus Facility Adviser of Phi Alpha Theta, a national history honor society of which Rapone was a member, according to a photo.

Hosein brought Phi Alpha Theta members, including Rapone, to Orlando, Florida, for a national conference in February 2016.

According to popularmilitary.com, Rapone, 25, from New Castle, Pennsylvania, first enlisted in the Army in 2010 and was assigned to Fort Benning for basic training and infantry training.

He completed Airborne school and a rigorous Ranger Assessment and Selection Program and was assigned to the 1st Ranger Battalion in Savannah, Georgia. He then deployed to Afghanistan, where he earned a combat infantryman badge.

He completed Air Assault School and then applied successfully to West Point.[2]

DSA solidarity

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Rapone has admitted being a member of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) and has even posted pictures showing his membership card — alongside his military name patch.

“Let there be no doubt that we have unequivocal solidarity with and pride in Spenser. He’s an exceptional soldier,” the Twitter account, @DSAVeterans, wrote.

The DSA’s Veterans Working Group, of which Rapone is a member, also offered support to him in a statement.

“Spenser Rapone is our comrade and we fully support, defend, and encourage him to take whatever steps he sees necessary to express his political beliefs and continue to organize towards a socialist future,” the group said.[3]

DSA Veterans Closed Facebook Group

Members of the Democratic Socialists of America Veterans Working Group Closed Facebook Group, as of September 28, 2017, included Spenser Rapone under the name of Giuseppe Impastato.[4]

DSA Veterans Working Group Statement on Afghanistan

The Democratic Socialists of America Veterans Working Group harshly condemns President Trump’s plan to continue the sixteen-year occupation of Afghanistan.
August 22, 2017
Americans must ask themselves: what have the hundreds of billions of dollars spent; the deaths of more than 2,000 American servicemembers, more than 100,000 Afghans, and unknown numbers of suicides or trauma related deaths; the stains upon our conscience, the torture, abuse, murder, and waste in Afghanistan brought us? The answer is nothing. The war is lost and has been for years. People are dying to secure the legacy and bank accounts of career officers and politicians whose ideas failed over a decade ago. The only solution is total and immediate withdrawal of all military forces from Afghanistan.

Thus, in the name of peace for both our American and Afghan brothers and sisters, our comrades who span every person-made border we say WITHDRAW.

Signatories included;

Altmire support

Ex-Rep. Jason Altmire of Pennsylvania, who served from 2007 to 2013, said that Second Lt. Spenser Rapone let him down.

“Several years ago, I met Spenser Rapone when he was a high school student seeking an appointment to West Point,” Altmire said. “At the time, he was an outstanding, well-rounded student who came from a good family. I have not been in touch with him in the years since the appointment, and I was shocked and extremely disappointed in the recent reports of his indefensible actions.”

To get into West Point, applicants must receive nominations, usually from U.S. politicians.

“While I strongly support the rights of American citizens to express their opinions, the actions of 2nd Lieutenant Rapone are abhorrent and appear to be in clear violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, in addition to being inconsistent with the values of the United States Military Academy. I have no doubt that the U.S. Army will take appropriate action,” Altmire said.[6]

Socialist Punk Caucus

Members of Democratic Socialists of America's Socialist Punk Caucus closed Facebook group, accessed November 24, 2017, included Spenser Rapone.[7]

"Wholesome Meme Stash"

Members of the Democratic Socialists of America Wholesome Meme Stash closed Facebook group, accessed November 14, 2017 included Spenser Rapone.[8]

References