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The banjo player is, of course, Winston Marshall, recently of the hit band Mumford & Sons. The mob is the usual band of angry twits, the censorious harpies of Twitter and Antifa who can’t stand the thought that someone, somewhere, isn’t prostrating himself before the pile of dung that is their hateful and dishonest political ideology.
I don’t care for banjo music, and I’m at best lukewarm about Mumford & Sons. They have a few songs I like, but they’re too folksy for my tastes and so rarely come up in my playlists. Since I’m not particularly interested in music I didn’t realize that the band had become big: I stumbled across them a decade ago, thought they were a little boutique group with a few hits, and never had reason to revise my view until friends, big fans of the group, assured me that they’d achieved mega-band status. Who knew?
Of course, I’d never heard of Winston Marshall until the story broke that he was being targeted by the clinically intolerant for his positive comment about Andy Ngo’s book Unmasked, which can be found at Amazon here and at Barnes & Noble here. Mr. Ngo has had the temerity to express criticism of the masked thugs of Antifa, and so has earned the ire of the neo-fascist left, and a severe beating, for his troubles.
Mr. Marshall further sinned against woke hyper-orthodoxy by having his picture taken with devil incarnate Jordan Peterson, for which he was duly drawn and quartered in the public square.
The backlash against this criminally free-thinking banjo player was such that the other members of Mumford & Sons, along with their families, were caught in the cross-fire, as the angry mob, armed with tweets and nasty social media comments and, who knows, maybe phone calls and excoriating faxes, expressed its righteous outrage that an [expletive] artist would think unapproved thoughts.
The story gets a little vague and muddled after that. Winston apologized publicly for the pain he’d inadvertently brought the band. He admitted that maybe he hadn’t thoroughly researched the situation, and so might have made a mistake. He offered to step back from the band for a while, and claims that the band expressed their continuing support for him. But, after a lot of self-examination, he decided that his apology was itself a betrayal of the truth, in that it could be seen as an implicit defense of Antifa and its supporters. He felt he couldn’t live with that betrayal, but also felt that he couldn’t inflict pain on his band, so he quit the band and wrote this essay in Medium to absolve himself of the guilt, not of his original comments, but of an apology that betrayed his own views.
While I’m troubled by this story, I respect that decision. His love for his band is obviously deep and sincere, and, informed by his Christian faith and his own sense of personal integrity, he chose to put the band’s wellbeing first and so made the only decision he could make that was consistent with his values. It must have been an extraordinarily difficult decision, and I wish others would exhibit that willingness to sacrifice for what they believe is the truth, rather than throw out a hasty apology and lie low in hopes the braying mob will forget them.
What troubles me is that Mumford & Sons let him leave. I feel about them now the way I would feel about a band that let a black bandmember be shouted off the stage because of his skin color, and then went on to play their gig without him. If a band of their stature won’t stand up for a man they know intimately and with whom they’ve played for more than a decade, with a guy who comes across in this Bari Weiss podcast interview as a thoroughly decent and good-hearted fellow, then they don’t deserve the graciousness he’s showing them.
That’s the first and last time I’ll speak in defense of a banjo player.
The progressive mob is intolerant and toxic, and it hides under the rotting log that is Twitter. Fight it.
PS: And I’d like to once again compliment Bari Weiss for the quality of her interviewing. She is not a conservative, yet had the guts to ask, in a positive and supportive way, if Winston’s faith was a factor in his decision to take an action she obviously respects. That impressed me.Published in