Guest Commentary: History Lessons Missing in Army Officer’s Allegiance to Communism

History Lessons Missing in Army Officer Allegiance to Communism, By Virginia White Klaus

Americans awoke this week to see self-published images of Spenser Rapone wearing the West Point Academy uniform, the heart of America’s Army leadership, while declaring allegiance for the constitutional republic’s historic foe: communism. The fact that this comes from an Army officer should make every American very concerned. Under communism, only the state can bestow rights on citizens. There is no check to the power of government officials. A fervent military officer like Rapone would be among the first to benefit from government ascension to life-and-death control over citizens.

For those who do not remember, modern communism is the twisted child of 19th century philosopher Karl Marx, who was, in essence, a failure who bitterly called for the end of religion and the subduction of all individuals to a grey existence that consists almost entirely of serving the state. He designed communism to have no moral foundation or acknowledgment of the natural rights of men and women—the very opposite of America’s Founding documents. Marx couched his ideas in glowing terms, declaring it a way to true human freedom by transcending private property ownership. In those countries that have actually tried to implement Marx’s ideas, his philosophy has become a path to hellish bondage.

In 1917, a generation after Marx, Bolshevik revolutionaries in the dying Russian empire overturned a young democratically elected parliament and set up the world’s first communist nation. Becoming known as Soviets, they and their ideologue descendants spent the next 70 years immersing their own and surrounding nations in a blood bath, trying to prove the workability of their utopian dream of a society without private property.  How did that turn out? It is estimated that Soviet communists are responsible for the deaths of upwards of 61 million of their own people. In addition to the state-sponsored murders, the Soviets engaged in mass imprisonments, man-made famines, and instituted the soul-crushing repression of all expression, even art and music, that didn’t please the elitist politburo that sat at the top of the Soviet hierarchy.

So how is it, 100 years after the Russian revolution and 25 years after its failure was proclaimed by a battered populace clamoring for democracy, that a student at one of America’s finest military academies has found himself calling for communism to replace this nation’s constitutional republic—the same Constitution to which he swore an oath? Who didn’t notice the rantings of Rapone? He made no attempt to hide who he is and what he believes.

Rapone and those like him present amoral communism as the moral alternative to America’s constitutional republic. America, they say, is a racist nation that has abused power. That’s it, end of story. Every action and bit of history is seen through a lens so colored by race and identity politics that the real history of America, including the freeing of slaves and expanding civil rights to all citizens, has been lost. Individuals and their stories are placed into slots according to race, gender, socio-economic class, or age; they lose intrinsic value for being simply human.

And therein lays the irony. Rapone declares his solidarity with the protests of Colin Kaepernick and other NFL players. Their refusal to show respect for the flag or national anthem is, they say, to protest racism that has led to oppression. But even as Rapone judges his own nation harshly, he gives a free pass to communism. From a historical perspective, the Soviet treatment of its own citizens has far more in common with slavery. Like slaves, Soviet citizens could not travel freely in their own nation. They could not own guns. Nor could they refuse authorities who requested access to their home. They could not freely express beliefs, gather and freely associate with others, or protest. They could be detained and imprisoned without explanation. Private property ownership? Even your body belonged to the state.

Communism, though it has proven to be a failure, spread throughout the 20th century and still exists. Other nations, including China and North Korea, have tried to turn their corner of Earth into a worker’s paradise. Their failure is written in the blood of martyrs. Consider, for example, the three-year reign of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. An estimated 2 million people out of a population of 7 million were killed between 1975 and 1978. China, stopping short of admitting the system is a failure, has been moving slowly toward capitalism and experimenting with limited private property ownership.

Rapone, now a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army, would do well to study such history lessons. One last example would provide context for both he and the “take a knee” club. It is the story of Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. William H. Carney. He was a member of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, the first African-American unit organized in the North during the Civil War. At the 1863 battle of Fort Wagner, his citation reads that: “When the color sergeant was shot down, this soldier grasped the flag, led the way to the parapet, and planted the colors thereon. When the troops fell back he brought off the flag, under a fierce fire in which he was twice severely wounded.”

History tells us that 40 percent of the unit was killed, wounded or missing by the end of the battle. From his bed in the field hospital, being cheered by his fellow soldiers, Carney was quoted, “Boys, I only did my duty; the old flag never touched the ground!” Those were the words of a former slave turned soldier. He understood what he was fighting for in the preservation of the constitutional republic and what the flag represented. He understood liberty’s precious value and the dark alternative. We can only wonder what he would say to an officer like Rapone.

Virginia White Klaus is an award-winning journalist living and working in Northern Virginia. She has traveled and lived on two other continents and all three U.S. coasts while pursuing her passion for history.

Photo: Joseph Stalin in 1949. Photo in public domain. Provided by Segunda Guerra Mundial in Flickr’s Creative Commons.

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