“For me to speak about what I’ve learnt to be such a controversial issue will inevitably bring my bandmates more trouble.”
Banjoist Winston Marshall officially departed Mumford & Sons after stepping back when the left attacked him when he praised Andy Ngo’s book Unmasked.
On Medium, Marshall expresses joy and happiness for his time in Mumford & Sons. He can not believe he got paid for doing what he loves.
“Who in their right mind would willingly walk away from this?” asked Marshall. “It turns out I would. And as you might imagine it’s been no easy decision.”
Marshall wrote in his March tweet, “Congratulations @MrAndyNgo. Finally had the time to read your important book. You’re a brave man.”
It did not take long for the left to assume Marshall belonged to the right because he enjoyed Ngo’s book. He did not realize the rabid mob would misconstrue his simple tweet.
But Marshall reminds everyone why we should think before we speak:
Over the course of 24 hours it was trending with 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.
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.
Then the other side blasted Marshall because he deleted the tweet and apologized. Someone like Marshall has different responsibilities than someone like me:
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.
Emotions were high. Despite pressure to nix me they invited me to continue with the band. That took courage, particularly in the age of so called “cancel culture”. I made an apology and agreed to take a temporary step back.
The left could not constrain its hate just on Marshall. It had to span to his bandmates.
“In the mania of the moment I was desperate to protect my bandmates,” explains Marshall. “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.”
Marshall laments that society forces us to identify with a political ideology. He’s called himself centrist or liberal but admits he is a “bit this, bit that.”
“I had criticised [sic] the ‘Left,’ so I must be the ‘Right,’ or so their logic goes,” writes Marshall.
Marshall admits that he might not have known enough about Ngo. He read more about Ngo, but nothing changed.
“The truth is that reporting on extremism at the great risk of endangering oneself is unquestionably brave,” asserts Marshall.
The hatred Marshall received will never go away. He knows it and knows his bandmates will suffer. Even though they stick by him and support him, the hate will not stop.
It is why many people choose not to speak out. Not only could it destroy their career but those around them.
Marshall wants to speak out without harming his bandmates, especially Marcus Mumford:
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. I have no doubt that their stars will shine long into the future. I will continue my work with Hong Kong Link Up and I look forward to new creative projects as well as speaking and writing on a variety of issues, challenging as they may be.
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