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Winston Marshall, the banjoist and guitarist of Mumford & Sons, has quit the Grammy-winning British band months after provoking a fan and public backlash following his support for a book by right-wing provocateur Andy Ngo.
In a post on Medium, Marshall outlined the reasons he is leaving the band he had been a part of since it was founded in 2007. He expands on his initial apology but also says he could not continue to “self-censor” his views. “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,” Marshall writes.
“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,” he added. “I could remain and continue to self-censor but it will erode my sense of integrity.”
He continued, “I hope in distancing myself from [the band] I am able to speak my mind without them suffering the consequences.”
On Twitter, the official Mumford & Sons account tweeted: “We wish you all the best for the future, Win, and we love you man.”
In March, in a now-deleted tweet, Marshall, who also goes by the music aliases Country Winston and WN5TN, 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 neofascist white nationalist groups the Proud Boys and Patriot Prayer.
A few days after his tweet, Marshall announced he was “taking time away” from the band.
While a member of Mumford & Sons, Marshall courted controversy for associating with notorious right-wing personalities. In 2018, Marshall invited Canadian academic Jordan Peterson, who has been accused of transphobia, misogyny and Islamophobia, to visit the band’s 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.”
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