One of the well-known Potomac River fishing guides made a horrifying remark on social media a few days ago. To call it “insensitive” would be a gross understatement — it was unremorsefully bigoted, employing a derogatory term for a particular ethnic group that wouldn’t have been even close to appropriate in 1959 or 1989, and in 2019 it’s inexcusable.
The reaction that I saw online was quick, with multiple members of our angling community sharing the post, and then dozens of others piling on to condemn the guide’s statement. As far as I know, no one has stepped up to defend his words, at least not in a public forum. Nor have I seen the guide apologize for or even acknowledge what he did. For all we know, he may consider it a feather in his cap.
No one who has looked at his Facebook page should have been surprised. There are lots of statements and memes on it that make his opinions pretty obvious. Furthermore, a few years ago his mouth had gotten him in trouble — leading to the loss of his boat deal and the support of the leading local marine dealership.
Obviously, he’s not the only person in our industry who shares the sentiments that he wrote. That’s not an indictment of anglers — there are plenty of racist people in Major League Baseball, on Wall Street, in academia and populating the seats in houses of worship. I’ve heard those sorts of remarks from denizens of all of those places, so I know that’s the case. Nevertheless, this hit me harder than one of those folks making the same remark. Rather than being buoyed by the number of people of all races, economic levels and occupations rushing to condemn him, it scared the hell out of me that we’re going to be consistently defined by the few Cro-Magnons among us.
There’s no greater conclusion to this blog, no great theme of “growing the sport” or how we’re gradually shaming guys like that guide to change their ways. The sport is becoming more diverse — not just on tour, but in the boardroom, too — and that’s for the best, but we still have a long way to go, because for every septuagenarian loudmouth jerk, there are probably a few more looking to pull us all down.