Townhall- Second Lt. Spenser Rapone is an infantry officer and a member of Democratic Socialists of America. He sent some support for Colin Kaepernick via Twitter, showing him in uniform, with “communism will win” etched inside his officer’s cap. He also tweeted a photo of himself wearing a Che Guevara t-shirt under his uniform.
Here is the response from West Point:
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. 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.
Wow. There is a LOT going on here. But first things first: I’m not sure that communism and Colin Kaepernick have a whole lot in common. The guy signed a $126 million contract after his Superbowl appearances (granted, he only took home $39 million of that once everything, uh, happened). He has the largest sneaker collection I’ve ever seen in my life…
Ok, so Kaepernick is allegedly a communist after all. The plot thickens! Let’s refocus on the West Point cadet. For an active service member, he is pretty vocal about his political leanings. Here is an article he wrote about his distaste for confederate symbols at West Point. Objectively, he’s a tremendous writer, with a strong voice. But wow. Talk about poking the bear. The bear being the United States of America, the internet, etc.
The Department of Defense is strict in limiting what active military members can say politically. Servicemen are allowed to voice an opinion on current political issues, but NOT as a representative of the armed forces (The Balance). I tried to read the exact laws on this, but it became confusing pretty quickly. I have to believe Lt. Rapone is aware of what he is legally allowed to say or endorse, but this is still a pretty brazen statement that we don’t often see from active military.
I, for one, stand by people’s right to voice their opinion. It becomes complicated if a soldier is using his military background as a platform for voicing political views. I just don’t know if it’s allowed, because I can’t understand legal jargon. I spent 4 days in law school and left because none of it made any sense. But I’ll leave that to you all to discuss.
PS- those Che Guevera shirts are pretty cool. He has a cool face on a shirt. That is all.