Winston Marshall deserves credit for standing up to the crazed mob
Younger folk among you may be familiar with Mumford & Sons, the English folk rock band popular on the festival circuit. Anyway, they are not bad, but this is not a musical review.
It concerns rather the resignation from the band of banjoist, Winston Marshall, who in March was the subject of a tsunami of hate from those charming persons of the far and not so far left. His crime? Well, he had had the temerity to tweet his praise of Unmasked, the best-selling book written by journalist Andy Ngo, which reveals the nature of Antifa, the extreme left organisation that was responsible for co-ordinating much of the mayhem that was visited on many American cities last Summer.
Ngo is the son of Vietnamese parents who fled that country after they were forced into labour camps by the Communists. So he is sort of familiar with what comes with all of that. He is also from Portland which continues to be one of the centres of the nihilistic far-left bankrolled by the corporate Woke and protected by much of the Democrat left.
Marshall’s tweet read: “Congratulations @MrAndyNgo. Finally had the time to read your important book. Brave man.” In his statement, published yesterday on Medium, Marshall details some of what ensued.
“Posting about books had been a theme of my social-media throughout the pandemic,” he wrote. 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. 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.”
“Nothing could be further from the truth. Thirteen members of my family were murdered in the concentration camps of the Holocaust. My Grandma, unlike her cousins, aunts and uncles, survived. She and I were close. My family knows the evils of fascism painfully well. To say the least. To call me “fascist” was ludicrous beyond belief.”
“I’ve had plenty of abuse over the years. I’m a banjo player after all. But this was another level. And, owing to our association, my friends, my bandmates, were getting it too. It took me more than a moment to understand how distressing this was for them.”
Marshall found that it had suddenly been decided that he was a “fascist,” despite the fact that family members on his grandmother’s side had been victims of real Nazis. Just as Ngo’s family indeed had been victims of the other side of the totalitarian coin. All of course beyond the ken of the notably undiverse Antifa mob, as this collection of mug shots shows.
The band itself does not perhaps emerge with honour from all of this as, despite Marshall’s praise, they surely ought have taken a stronger position in defence of their friend. He too perhaps did not help his position by appearing in the midst of the hatefest to apologise for the tweet.
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.
As many people know, the worst thing you can do in the face of intimidation and threats is to be seen to back down. Bullies of whatever kind only take it as a sign of weakness, and as an encouragement to move on to other victims.
Some conservatives have preferred to hold onto Marshall’s apology rather than to listen to what he is saying now. Or to understand that he is kicking against a culture that has brought huge pressures on him to toe the line. As Whitaker Chambers said of himself in the 1940s, he appears to be leaving the winning side to join the losing side.
Regarding that apology, which reading between the lines one suspects was not exactly discouraged by the band and its management, Marshall wrote that “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.”
More to the point, and evidence that he has indeed reflected over the past months and reflected well, he refers to the example of Alexander Solzhenitsyn. Solzhenitsyn, of course, lived a life of great courage in the face of the beast of the Portland reds having slouched into Bethlehem.
Solzhenitsyn also judged himself on times before he was swept up into the gulags when he too had temporised with evil. Many of us have in some ways: many have had moments when it might have seemed easier to give in and shut up and toe the line.
Marshall deserves credit for having not taken the easier path now. His concluding quote from Solzhenitsyn indicates that he has come to understand what actually motivates those who were part of his being cancelled. And of his understanding as to what the proper response is, and it is never to shut up nor to apologise.