Winston Marshall, the banjo player and lead guitarist of Mumford & Sons, is “taking time away” from the Grammy-winning British band after he endured a social media backlash for praising a book by right-wing provocateur Andy Ngo.
In a tweet posted to his account Tuesday night, Marshall said, “Over the past few days I have come to better understand the pain caused by the book I endorsed. I have offended not only a lot of people I don’t know, but also those closest to me, including my bandmates and for that I am truly sorry.”
He added: “As a result of my actions I am taking time away from the band to examine my blindspots. For now, please know that I realize how my endorsements have the potential to be viewed as approvals of hateful, divisive behavior. I apologize, as this was not at all my intention.”
The controversy started when Marshall, in a now-deleted tweet, congratulated Ngo on the publication of his book Unmasked, which promises to take the reader “inside ANTIFA’s radical plan to destroy democracy.”
“Finally had the time to read your important book. You’re a brave man,” Marshall tweeted, before deleting the message following a backlash and intense mockery of the band.
Ngo, a conservative journalist who rose to prominence filming left-wing protests in Portland, has become notorious for his associations with the neo-fascist white nationalist groups the Proud Boys and Patriot Prayer.
The Ngo incident is not the first time Marshall, who also goes by the aliases Country Winston and WN5TN, and Mumford & Sons have courted controversy for associating with notorious right-wing personalities. Back in 2018, the band invited Canadian academic Jordan Peterson, who has been accused of transphobia, misogyny and Islamophobia, to visit their London studios.
After pictures of Peterson and members of the band appeared on social media, Marshall told a Canadian radio station, “I don’t think that having a photograph with someone means you agree with everything they say.” He added, “Primarily I’m interested in his psychological stuff, which I find very interesting.”
— Winston Marshall (@MrWinMarshall) March 10, 2021