Troy Aikman made a private comment that made its way to the public eye, and ear. Aikman is now making a public clarification after the reaction to what he said.
Aikman and colleague Joe Buck, prior to Sunday’s Packers-Buccaneers game in a sparsely-filled Raymond James Stadium, commented on the question of whether military flyovers constitute a waste of money. Many incorrectly regarded this as “mocking” of flyovers and disrespect of the nation and the military.
Aikman has taken to Twitter to clarify himself.
“I love a flyover but It was odd to see one over a mostly empty stadium but I am an unwavering patriot that loves this country,” Aikman said, “has always respected our flag, supported the men and women in the armed forces as well as those in uniform who serve & protect and for anyone to suggest otherwise doesn’t know me, my beliefs or what I have stood for my entire life.”
It’s entirely possible to be an “unwavering patriot” who respects the flag and supports the military while also questioning whether taxpayer money is properly used for displays of military might prior to a sporting event. Indeed, many unwavering patriots demonstrate their patriotism by asking tough questions of a those charged with properly managing taxpayer funds.
Even in this twisted, upside down, hyper-politicized existence of ours, questioning the prudence and wisdom of the decisions and actions of the federal government is not, cannot be, and never has been unpatriotic. It’s quintessentially patriotic to use our voices, raise our concerns, and air our grievances.
And as to those who insist that there’s no extra expenditure of money because these flyovers double as training runs for pilots (frankly, I like my flyover pilots to be fully trained in advance), why has that never before been mentioned when the question of whether flyovers at sporting events constitute a proper use of taxpayer funds has come up in the past? Why would flyovers that also represent important and critical pilot training be regarded as non-essential, and thus be suspended, during a shutdown of the federal government?
Even if there’s a dual purpose for such flights, they avoid incurring extra expense only if they already would have been flying the exact same path, over the stadium. Any deviation from normal and usual training flights surely costs extra money, and thus expends resources that arguably shouldn’t be.
The reality is that flyovers are good for military recruitment and otherwise enhancing the image and reputation of the armed services. Which arguably makes it not a waste of taxpayer money but a legitimate expense with a calculated, strategic end in mind.
Regardless, for Aikman or anyone else to suggest that it’s a waste of money doesn’t make him unpatriotic. To suggest otherwise would be to argue that true patriots should sit down and shut up regarding any and all concerns as to the proper use of public funds. While those in power may prefer their patriots to be compliant and obsequious, this country became great — and will stay great — thanks to the willingness of true patriots to ask tough questions, take unpopular positions, and do unpopular things.