Three months after being hit by the cancel culture community, Winston Marshall, the former banjo player for folk-rock band Mumford & Sons announced that he was leaving the band. He had previously taken a hiatus after so-called progressives took umbrage at his complimenting a book written by right-wing journalist Andy Ngo. (See: Mumford and Sons Band Member Winston Marshall Makes the Biggest Mistake You Can in Today’s Climate)
The musician published a piece in Newsweek in which he announced his departure and explained his reasons for pursuing other endeavors. Marshall began by reminiscing about his tenure with the band, which has been performing for over a decade.
“We saw the country and then, as things miraculously grew, the world. All the while doing what we loved. Music. And not just any music. These songs meant something. They felt important to me. Songs with the message of hope and love,” he wrote.
He then recalled the controversy he stirred up when he tweeted about Ngo. He wrote:
At the beginning of March I tweeted to American journalist Andy Ngo, author of the New York Times Bestseller, Unmasked. “Congratulations @MrAndyNgo. Finally had the time to read your important book. You’re a brave man.” 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.
“Over the course of 24 hours, it was trending with tens of thousands of angry retweets and comments,” he explained. “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 pointed out the irony in being called a fascist when 13 members of his family “were murdered in the concentration camps of the Holocaust.” He also explained how it placed undue pressure on the members of the band. “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,” he wrote.
Despite the mob pressuring the band to fire Marshall, they refused to give in. Marshall issued a public apology and take a temporary leave from performing. However, this move did not assuage the social media mob.
“Rather predictably, another viral mob came after me, this time for the sin of apologizing. Then followed libelous articles calling me ‘right-wing’ and such,” he stated. “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.’”
Marshall pointed out how political discourse has become so binary that people assumed that because he criticized the left, he must be on the right. The banjo player explained that he apologized because he wished to protect his bandmates from the vitriol. “I didn’t want them to suffer for my actions; they were my priority,” he wrote.
He also indicated that he was “open to the fact that maybe I did not know something about the author or his work.” However, Marshall appears to have come to the conclusion that he did nothing wrong by tweeting about Andy Ngo. He wrote:
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.
Despite believing he did not transgress by posting his tweet, he is still deciding to leave the band for one simple reason: He knows expressing his opinions will bring more controversy on his bandmates and he does not want to censor himself while remaining in the group.
“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,” Marshall wrote.
The fact that Marshall had to choose between doing what he loves or speaking freely is exactly the type of scenario that members of the cancel culture community wish to foist upon Western society. The authoritarian left does not suffer dissent – especially from someone with a modicum of fame.
While Marshall chose free speech over his music career, the hard left knows that many others will simply choose to remain silent about their beliefs. These individuals want the rest of us to keep our dissenting views to ourselves while they push the agenda uncontested.
The only way to render the cancel culture community impotent is to defy their wishes and speak our minds. If they can’t control us, they can’t impose their will on society. The question is: Will we allow ourselves to be cowed into submission?