— Rudi (Dutschke) Can’t Fail (@punkproletarian) September 24, 2017
Spenser Rapone, a former second lieutenant whose “Communism Will Win” photo rocked the internet in 2017 after being featured by this publication, has received an “Other Than Honorable” discharge from the U.S. Army.
Law&Crime broke the story of the West Point Communist on September 25, 2017 after speaking with Rapone and confirming his identity, intentions and political ideology. Then-Lieutenant Rapone put his own continued service on the line in order to speak up in support of blacklisted ex-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
An investigation into Rapone’s behavior quickly commenced and he was placed on a monitoring regime–said to be for his own safety. Rapone was initially in high spirits during said investigation. Eventually, however, after becoming increasingly disillusioned with U.S. imperialism abroad, Rapone resigned his commission and was separated from the Army in early June.
Aside from his recent West Point graduation, Rapone was an infantry officer in the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, New York. Rapone had previously deployed to Afghanistan where he received a Combat Infantryman Badge–meaning he has fought in active ground combat.
After the initial photo was posted and achieved some measure of virality–and elicited quite a bit of outrage and confusion–Rapone laid any confusion to rest and further incited his far-right critics by posting another photo of himself wearing a Che Guevara t-shirt underneath his half-buttoned uniform. As a caption to that photo, Rapone tweeted, “In case there was any lingering doubt, hasta la victoria siempre,” a popular left-wing slogan oft-attributed to the late Marxist revolutionary, physician, and guerrilla leader who was ultimately killed and captured by the U.S. CIA.
Rapone’s Twitter account, where he tweets as @punkproletarian, was previously set to protected while the investigation ran its course. As of Friday, his account was public again. Rapone announced his return to social media–and departure from the military–by sharing a post from Rory Fanning, a former Army Ranger who will be interviewing Rapone during a talk titled, “Resisting Within the Ranks.” Fanning’s post notes:
Spenser is being discharged from the military with an Other Than Honorable discharge this June, in part, because Marco Rubio penned a panic-stricken letter to acting Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy demanding the branch nullify Rapone’s military commission after seeing [the] photo.
The event is set to take place on July 5-8 during the the “Socialism 2018” conference in Chicago, Illinois.
To be clear, Rapone’s discharge is officially based on the fact that he made political gestures while in uniform–not due to the content of said gestures. U.S. Army spokesperson Valerie Mongello stressed this point to American Military News, noting, “Both the Department of Defense and the Army have long-standing policies encouraging Soldiers to participate in the democratic process. Among other activities, Soldiers are encouraged to vote in elections and express their personal opinions on public issues. However, the Army has strict rules regarding the wear and appearance of Army uniforms.”
Due to the form of discharge received, Rapone may be ineligible for VA benefits or the GI Bill. Rapone will eventually have an opportunity to petition for an upgrade in his discharge status, however, which would have a positive impact on his eligibility.
[image via Spenser Rapone with permission]