On Thursday, Mumford & Sons banjo player and lead guitarist Winston Marshall announced that he would be walking away from the band after the cancel culture mob targeted him for the unforgivable sin of praising antifa unmasker Andy Ngo. Marshall said he will be silent no longer, but he will also protect his fellow bandmates by stepping aside. He explained why he apologized, and why he now regrets the apology.
Marshall made the announcement in a deeply-personal Medium post. He began by recounting his wonderful experiences in the band, and then asking, “Who in their right mind would willingly walk away from this? It turns out I would. And as you might imagine it’s been no easy decision.”
He recounted his sin, posting about Andy Ngo’s book Unmasked on Twitter. “Posting about books had been a theme of my social-media throughout the pandemic. I believed this tweet to be as innocuous as the others. How wrong I turned out to be.”
“I failed to foresee that my commenting on a book critical of the Far-Left could be interpreted as approval of the equally abhorrent Far-Right,” Marshall explained. “Nothing could be further from the truth. Thirteen members of my family were murdered in the concentration camps of the Holocaust. My Grandma, unlike her cousins, aunts and uncles, survived. She and I were close. My family knows the evils of fascism painfully well. To say the least. To call me ‘fascist’ was ludicrous beyond belief.”
Marshall explained that he could take the criticism, but “in the eyes of the public,” his band is “a unity” and “it’s our singer’s name on the tin.” He recalled that “the distress brought to them and their families that weekend I regret very much. I remain sincerely sorry for that. Unintentionally, I had pulled them into a divisive and totemic issue.”
While his bandmates felt “pressure to nix” him, they invited Marshall to continue with the band.
“Rather predictably another viral mob came after me, this time for the sin of apologising. Then followed libellous articles calling me ‘right-wing’ and such. Though there’s nothing wrong with being conservative, when forced to politically label myself I flutter between ‘centrist’, ‘liberal’ or the more honest ‘bit this, bit that’. Being labeled erroneously just goes to show how binary political discourse has become,” Marshall recalled. “I had criticised the ‘Left’, so I must be the ‘Right’, or so their logic goes.”
Marshall did not intend to kowtow to the mob, but he apologized in order to protect his bandmates. “In the mania of the moment I was desperate to protect my bandmates,” he wrote. “The hornets’ nest that I had unwittingly hit had unleashed a black-hearted swarm on them and their families. I didn’t want them to suffer for my actions, they were my priority.”
He also explained that he apologized because he wanted to learn more about Ngo and his book, to make sure that the criticisms against Ngo were false.
Upon reflection, Marshall concluded, “The truth is that my commenting on a book that documents the extreme Far-Left and their activities is in no way an endorsement of the equally repugnant Far-Right. The truth is that reporting on extremism at the great risk of endangering oneself is unquestionably brave.”
“I also feel that my previous apology in a small way participates in the lie that such extremism does not exist, or worse, is a force for good,” he explained.
Marshall will not rescind his criticism of antifa, but he will also not continue to drag his bandmates into the cancel culture’s sights.
So he did the honorable thing and resigned from the band, giving up his lucrative and exciting job for the sake of his principles and to protect his bandmates.
Marshall quoted the great Russian author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s essay “Live Not By Lies.”
And he who is not sufficiently courageous to defend his soul — don’t let him be proud of his “progressive” views, and don’t let him boast that he is an academician or a people’s artist, a distinguished figure or a general. Let him say to himself: I am a part of the herd and a coward. It’s all the same to me as long as I’m fed and kept warm.
“For me to speak about what I’ve learnt to be such a controversial issue will inevitably bring my bandmates more trouble. My love, loyalty and accountability to them cannot permit that,” Marshall explained. “I could remain and continue to self-censor but it will erode my sense of integrity. Gnaw my conscience. I’ve already felt that beginning.”
“The only way forward for me is to leave the band. I hope in distancing myself from them I am able to speak my mind without them suffering the consequences,” the singer and banjoist explained. “I leave with love in my heart and I wish those three boys nothing but the best. I have no doubt that their stars will shine long into the future.”
Marshall’s decision to quit the band sends a powerful message, but it could also appear to be a victory for the cancel culture mob. Marshall clarified that he was not apologizing for exposing antifa and supporting Ngo, but he did bow to the mob’s pressure by quitting the band. Cancel culture gained a scalp, but the voices that oppose cancel culture gained a centrist-liberal ally.
Either way, Marshall showed courage and resolve. Conservatives should celebrate his stance and liberals must respect it.
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