Back in March, Mumford & Sons banjo player Winston Marshall was the subject of intense online scrutiny after voicing his support on Twitter for a controversial author. In the fallout of his statement, Marshall announced in a since-deleted tweet that he was taking “taking time away from the band to examine my blindspots.” Following three months of reflection, Winston Marshall has decided to leave Mumford & Sons.

The controversy began in early March when Marshall tweeted his support for Unmasked by Andy Ngo. Even prior to Unmasked, which Fader characterized as focusing on “Antifa’s radical plan to destroy democracy,” Ngo had emerged as a controversial figure in conservative news following allegations of selectively edited videos from public demonstrations as well as presenting misleading information targeting Muslims.

Marshall, who has a history of using his Twitter account to review books, originally tweeted to Ngo, saying, “Finally had the time to read your important book. You’re a brave man.”

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After originally walking back those comments, it now appears that Marshall is doubling down on his support for the controversial author and walking back his walk-back. In a lengthy post on Medium titled “Why I’m Leaving Mumford & Sons”, Marshall said of the reasoning behind initial apology,

“Rub your eyes and purify your heart — and prize above all else in the world those who love you and who wish you well.” — Aleksander Solzhenitsyn once wrote. In the mania of the moment I was desperate to protect my bandmates. The hornets’ nest that I had unwittingly hit had unleashed a black-hearted swarm on them and their families. I didn’t want them to suffer for my actions, they were my priority.

Secondly, I was sincerely open to the fact that maybe I did not know something about the author or his work. “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak,” Churchill once said, “courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen”. And so I listened.

While quoting Winston Churchill is probably not the best idea for somebody trying to prove they aren’t racist, Marshall appears to consider himself an arbiter of truth. The banjo picker thinks himself such an instrumental figure in the ongoing fight against the “Far-Left” and “cancel culture” that he has decided to leave Mumford & Sons to further his intellectual pursuits, so as to not drag the rest of the group down by association when another “viral mob” comes after him.

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. I could remain and continue to self-censor but it will erode my sense of integrity. Gnaw my conscience. I’ve already felt that beginning.

The only way forward for me is to leave the band. I hope in distancing myself from them I am able to speak my mind without them suffering the consequences. I leave with love in my heart and I wish those three boys nothing but the best. I have no doubt that their stars will shine long into the future. I will continue my work with Hong Kong Link Up and I look forward to new creative projects as well as speaking and writing on a variety of issues, challenging as they may be.

Head over to Medium to read Winston Marshall’s full essay, “Why I’m Leaving Mumford & Sons”.