Culture Trips

Winston Marshall on break from Mumford & Sons after praising rightwing writer | Mumford & Sons

Winston Marshall, the banjo player and lead guitarist with Mumford & Sons, has said he is “taking time away from the band” after his praise for far-right agitator Andy Ngo prompted a backlash.

On 7 March, Marshall tweeted of Ngo’s book Unmasked: Inside Antifa’s Radical Plan to Destroy Democracy: “Finally had the time to read your important book. You’re a brave man.” The tweet was soon deleted as criticism mounted.

Ngo is a conservative journalist. In 2019, Jacobin magazine described him as “the most dangerous grifter in America” for what they regarded as attempts to incite harassment against left-wing protestors in part through the spread of false claims and selectively edited videos. In a review, the LA Times described Unmasked as “supremely dishonest”.

In a statement shared on 10 March, 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.”

Marshall said he would use his absence from the band “to examine my blindspots”.

He concluded: “For now, please know that I realise how my endorsements have the potential to be viewed as approvals of hateful, divisive behaviour. I apologise, as this was not at all my intention.”

Marshall’s bandmates, Marcus Mumford, Ben Lovett and Ted Dwane, have not commented on Marshall’s remarks. A representative for the band told the Guardian there was no immediate comment.

In 2018, the group attracted criticism for being photographed with the rightwing professor Jordan Peterson. Lovett told the Guardian: “I looked forward to having a conversation with him, but only because I wanted to have a conversation with as many people as possible.” He described Peterson as “an intellectualist more than anything: I don’t think he particularly likes how political it is”.

Mumford said he was upset that people might take the photograph as an endorsement of Peterson’s politics, many of which he disagreed with. He said he would “fiercely defend my bandmates’ rights to listen to the guy”.

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