Winston Marshall, the guitarist cum banjoist with Mumford & Sons, has announced he’s quitting the band following controversy around his support for the book ‘Unmasked‘ which decries the leftist protest movement Antifa among other positions; a book which the LA Times described as “supremely dishonest” and whose main thesis is that the influence of right-wing extremists is “grossly exaggerated by biased media.” In March of this year, Marshall had sent a Tweet to the book’s author, conservative journalist Andy Ngo: “Congratulations. Finally had the time to read your important book. You’re a brave man.” He initially apologised, stating: “Over the past few days I have come to better understand the pain caused by the book I endorsed,” adding that he would “examine my blindspots”. But before he got to those blindspots, he then went on to say in a fuller blog post last night that:
“I have spent much time reflecting, reading and listening. 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 … 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 … 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.”
And there you have it, the “horseshoe theory” that the “far-left” are the same as the “far-right” (“Open borders” vs “No immigration full stop” – erm…) The Mumfords have told Winston “we love you man” – but hey you know, this. Still, ‘Babel’ is a great album and Winston is a great banjo player – proof once again you should never meet your heroes.