Tancredo: Duty, Honor, Communism at West Point – Should We Be Surprised?

West-Point-Academy-Graduation-AP
Mike Groll / Associated Press

A recent graduate of West Point, 2nd Lt. Spenser Rapone, is a proud, self-proclaimed Marxist and communist. He celebrated his May 2016 West Point graduation by wearing a Che Guevara T-shirt under his uniform and tweeting a photo of that attire and a sign inside his military head cover, “Communism will win!”

Lt. Rapone’s current twitter account appears under the name, “Punkproletarian,” which he used in September 2017 to tweet a “Veterans for Kaepernick” message, thereby applauding the NFL player’s disrespect for the National Anthem and the United States flag.

Hey! Just the kind of guy we want defending American sovereignty, American national interests, and leading American soldiers into battle, right?

Well, brace yourself for the really bad news: West Point faculty and administrators knew about his anti-American views and still allowed him to graduate and receive his military commission. Evidently, it is now permissible to hate your country and hope communism triumphs worldwide and still be an officer in the United States Army. So, it is fair to ask, what happened to the West Point values immortalized by General Douglas MacArthur in his iconic 1962 farewell address to West Point cadets, “Duty, Honor, Country”?

Some West Point faculty actually tried to alert the West Point Superintendent to Rapone’s unsuitability for military leadership. A member of the faculty from 2013-2017, Lt. Col. Robert M. Heffington, has published an open letter to describe in great detail the decay of West Point’s standards — the standards are there but rarely enforced — and why Rapone’s success at West Point is a painful symptom of widespread apathy and corruption. Colonel Heffington tried to alert the West Point powers-that-be to Rapone’s radical views, but his alarms were ignored. You can read his lengthy indictment here.

Current West Point Superintendent Lt. Gen. Robert  L. Caslen, Jr., has responded to the scandal by promising a full investigation, while Sen. Marco Rubio has called Rapone a “national security threat” and asked the Secretary of the Army to cancel his military commission.

West Point Superintendent Gen. Caslen assured the public, “Rapone’s actions in no way represent the values of the US Military Academy or the US Army.” Well, if true, that is indeed reassuring, but it does not answer the more pressing question — how did this communist crusader pass through West Point successfully? Meanwhile, Lt. Rapone continues to wear the uniform and collect the paycheck of a US Army Second Lieutenant while serving as a volunteer community organizer for Democratic Socialists of America (DSA).

No doubt, Barack Obama is proud that under his presidency, West Point began producing community organizers along with military leaders, but probably the U.S. Congress and Defense Secretary Mattis will want to take a closer look at West Point’s apparent surrender to political correctness.

Undoubtedly, in the coming weeks, we will see a lot of back peddling and a hundred excuses offered for the emergence of the “commie cadet.” In fact, the American left and liberal news media are already busy shifting the spotlight away from Marxist Lt. Spenser Rampone and onto the patriots criticizing the breakdown of West Point standards. A recent Newsweek story on Lt. Rapone screamed this headline: “Now conservatives want him dead!”  In the story, readers were told, “The West Point statement helps to sum up just how polarized and surreal online politics have become in the age of President Donald Trump.” Newsweek readers are being asked to believe that an Army officer tweeting “F**k this country!” and “Communism will win!” is not the problem; the problem is excessive public outrage “in the age of Trump.”

So, to the liberal media, again, it is Trump’s fault! The handsome young Army officer is being persecuted for his progressive beliefs! Really, we can’t make this stuff up.

When you stop to think it through, maybe it should not be so surprising that our premier military academy has permitted an avowed, crusading communist to enter the ranks of our Army officer corps. With so many of our most prestigious universities proudly graduating hundreds and even thousands of Marxists and social justice warriors every year –without much criticism or concern expressed by trustees, regents or legislators — why should we expect our military academies to somehow remain aloof and immune from that academic affliction?

Obviously, many questions about Comrade Rapone remain unanswered. He enlisted in the US Army out of high school and served one tour in Afghanistan prior to applying to West Point, so perhaps fighting the Taliban butchers was permitted by his progressive values. But according to all available descriptions of the West Point admission standards, besides exceptional academic prowess and high physical fitness standards, applicants must possess “demonstrated leadership potential.”

It will be interesting to hear West Point’s explanation of how Comrade Rapone measured up to all academic and moral standards. If the answer turns out to be that he met all West Point standards and his military commission will not be canceled, then like our other elite universities, West Point — and perhaps the Pentagon itself — needs a thorough house cleaning.

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