Anyone who has witnessed the stomach-turning abhorrence of direct racism — anyone but a racist, that is — will have a good idea of the nastiness BAME citizens put up with throughout their lives. Yet more pernicious is the covert racism in society, which though perhaps less commonplace than in years past, is still prevalent in many quarters. The recent Black Lives Matter protests have highlighted this once more.
There is little diversity in angling. In all my years fishing I have met only one angler from a minority ethnic background. Unsettling for me is the realisation that many anglers harbour racist views. A look through some of the online forums reveals a dismissive or hostile view to these protests. Not much sign of the contemplative man here.
Perhaps one should take some comfort that only a relatively small number of individuals express these views. The worst site of those I look at is flyfishing.co.uk. I have previously written about the members there who hold and express reactionary views, supporters of the likes of Trump and abusers of moderates; like Trump himself, they are fond of accusing others of their own corrupt outlook. It is no surprise that these same individuals have been forthright in their condemnation of the BLM protests. Naturally they don’t make overt racist comments — most racists will claim they are not racist. Instead they seek to deny the existence of racism, search the net for obscure (and usually unreliable) sources that claim it’s all the imagination of the BAME community. They jeer at anyone who voices support for the BLM movement.
I do not believe the owner of the site condones such attitudes, and lately a couple of threads started by these racists has been taken down. But its willingness (or financial need) to allow so-called political discussion offers a platform for such odious views, and those who take advantage seem to be there solely for that purpose. The moderation is too tolerant; it may not support racism but it does, I believe, have sympathy for some of the right wing propaganda. Fish and Fly does have a policy against hate speech, and deletes such posts when they are drawn to moderators’ attention, although on occasions is slow to act. The problem is that the bigots who use the site believe free speech is a licence to make offensive postings and try to get round the rules as above. They should be stopped.
The Government has a National Angling Strategy, launched last year. One of its objectives is “An increase in angling participation by 2024 and increases in females, young people and BAME communities taking part.” This worthy aim reflects the shrinking and ageing demographic of anglers. The majority are old white men, and it is these who are most likely to hold bigoted views. As this generation dies off, a younger, better educated, more open-minded society will take their place. Whether or not angling survives as more than a quirky interest for a few, at least the evil of racism will move further on towards eradication.
This site has recently had an uptick in readers following a link from a forum called pikers-pit. I’ve no particular interest in pike fishing but I took a look at the source, which not surprisingly comes from a thread on BLM. The posts there emphasise the points I make above, with considerably more force than their equivalents on flyfishing.co.uk. Here is a small selection from the many in similar vein:
This stream of hate-filled invective is partly comic in the outpourings of misspelled words to beat the language-checker. Note how a black racing driver is singled out for no particular reason, and note also the familiar inversions – left wing becomes white supremacist, Hamilton is held responsible for events long before he was born. The racism motivating this nasty rant is plain.
A responder is briefer but no more articulate:
There is plenty more of the same from several posters. One individual who understandably finds this kind of talk offensive pointed out that it contravenes the T&C of the site (no abuse, hate-speech, etc). This is part of the reply from the moderator, who clearly finds moderating rather tiresome:
Unambiguously racist language does not require moderator attention? Racism is clearly thriving in the fishing fraternity and forum terms and conditions are mere window dressing.