Spenser Rapone Tells Chris Hedges How He Escaped the Army's 'Cult of Death'
When mainstream news outlets caught wind of why West Point cadet Spenser Rapone had been discharged from the U.S. Army last summer, their coverage was as predictable as it was functional. With few exceptions, and with numerous headlines mocking him as the “Commie Cadet,” the media’s collective response performed a kind of double duty, at once disciplining Rapone for going public with his politics and making sure others who share similar views keep theirs strictly classified.
For those who missed that particular news cycle, the 26-year-old Army Ranger was reprimanded by superiors and, on June 18, 2018, he was given an “other-than-honorable” discharge, despite his having already tendered his resignation, after he posted a pair of images taken at his West Point graduation two years before. In one, he had unbuttoned his uniform jacket to reveal a Che Guevara T-shirt he wore underneath; in another, he stood with a fist and displayed the underside of his hat, on which a message that read “Communism will win” was written. Rapone tweeted out that last photo with the hashtag “#VeteransForKaepernick” in a show of solidarity with NFL quarterback-turned-activist Colin Kaepernick.
Below is a link to Rapone’s own account, published June 20 on Truthdig, of that series of events:
Rapone recently sat down for an in-depth discussion with Truthdig columnist and “On Contact” host Chris Hedges, in which they covered everything from the “military culture” made apparent in the Army’s indoctrination rituals and fetishization of weaponry to how, as Rapone put it, he “broke from a collective delusion.” Rapone also describes what happened when he chose Pat Tillman, who was killed in 2004 while serving an Army tour in Afghanistan, to be his so-called “Airborne Ranger in the Sky.”
As Hedges mentions in introducing this episode, “The soldier’s tale is the same war after war, generation after generation”—yet there are aspects of this particular soldier’s story that are remarkable. Watch the “On Contact With Chris Hedges” interview in full below:
Finally, along with his fellow anti-war Army veteran Mike Prysner, Rapone launched the podcast “Eyes Left” over the summer, taking on various issues “from a left-wing and socialist perspective,” according to their description. Listen to the debut episode here: