Mumford And Sons lead guitarist and banjo player Winston Marshall has announced that he will leave the band permanently, following backlash to his praise for Unmasked, a book by controversial right-wing media figure Andy Ngo.
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In a lengthy blog post, Marshall explained how the extreme backlash to his praise had brought abuse to himself, other band members and their families, hence his decision to leave. After he posted a tweet praising Unmasked, which claims that the decentralised movement Antifa has a “radical plan to destroy democracy,” and calls left-wing activists a “marauding gang” planning to “destroy the nation-state, America in particular,” Marshall said that he received “tens of thousands of angry retweets and comments.”
“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,” he added. “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 continued: “I’ve had plenty of abuse over the years. I’m a banjo player after all. But this was another level. And, owing to our association, my friends, my bandmates, were getting it too. It took me more than a moment to understand how distressing this was for them.”
“Despite being four individuals we were, in the eyes of the public, a unity. Furthermore it’s our singer’s name on the tin. That name was being dragged through some pretty ugly accusations, as a result of my tweet. 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.”
He added that “another viral mob” for “the sin of apologising,” once he posted a statement and took a temporary step away from the band. He concludes by saying that he does not feel he can remain in the band without sacrificing integrity in his beliefs: “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. 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. I leave with love in my heart and I wish those three boys nothing but the best.”
Marshall’s full statement can be read here.