West Point graduate and infantry officer Spenser Rapone recently caused a sensation through his advocacy and support of communism, while being an “official socialist organizer” of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). Rapone recently posted a photo of himself as part of a declaration of support for professional football player Colin Kaepernick, including the phrase “Communism will win” with the tag “Veterans for Kaepernick.” Rapone later posted a second photo of himself in uniform with a Che Guevara T-shirt underneath his jacket.That led to scrutiny of the hundreds of pro-Communist tweets by the former cadet, including one calling Defense Secretary James Mattis “evil” and “vile” and another saying he will “happily dance” on the grave of Sen. John McCain.
This was not extensively covered by the mainstream media—After all, what’s the matter with Communists, as long as they don’t help Donald Trump?—though some attention was paid when Senator Rubio demanded that the Army remove Rapone. The Army said last week is it investigating and that the posts “in no way reflect the values of the U.S. Military Academy or the U.S. Army.”
I sure hope not!
Now the military community and others are asking how this is possible, and how West Point could produce a graduate like Rapone. In response to the episode, retired LTC Robert M. Heffington has written an open letter about what he sees as the deterioration of the culture at the storied military academy. Heffington was an assistant professor at West Point for several years, until this past August.
I. This is how one blows a whistle.
II. Heffington describes how cultures rot: inattention, poor leadership, refusal to apply standards, corruption from political agendas, silence from within.
III. Desperate and politically driven efforts to achieve diversity at the expense of integrity and quality are a major factor.
IV. West Point is a part of the higher education community. It would be surprising if it were immune from the same deterioration that the rest of America’s colleges and universities are suffering from. Thus this passage…
“…an entire semester of military history was recently deleted from the curriculum (at West Point!). In all courses, the bar has been lowered to the point where it is irrelevant. If a cadet fails a course, the instructor is blamed, so instructors are incentivized to pass everyone. Additionally, instead of responding to cadet failure with an insistence that cadets rise to the challenge and meet the standard, the bar for passing the course itself is simply lowered. This pattern is widespread and pervades every academic department.”
V. Before I read the letter, I guessed that it would have a passage like this one, and sure enough:
“The plebe American History course has been revamped to focus completely on race and on the narrative that America is founded solely on a history of racial oppression. Cadets derisively call it the “I Hate America Course.” Simultaneously, the plebe International History course now focuses on gender to the exclusion of many other important themes.”
VI. Repairing a broken culture is a long and difficult process. It involves…
Dedication to standards and values
Refusal to compromise
Routine Assessment of progress
Robert M. Heffington is an Ethics Hero. Here is his remarkable and remarkably disturbing letter: Continue reading