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Winston Marshall just wanted to play music. The bearded banjo-player and guitarist of the hot British folk-rock band Mumford & Sons didn’t intend to set the world on fire. He didn’t even mean to mildly tick anyone off.
Yet unintentionally, he has become a lightning rod for extreme leftist hatred. He’s been bullied, his family has been targeted, his bandmates threatened. Most gallingly, despite the fact that 13 of his relatives were murdered in Nazi concentration camps during WWII, Marshall has been wantonly, and outrageously, labeled a “fascist.’’ This, because he did something unforgivable in the eyes of the ruling woke class: The self-described “centrist’’ with liberal leanings expressed a conservative opinion.
And he’s not backing down.
Now Marshall, 33, is fighting back against the mob. He’s giving up the luxe life-style of a rock star, filled with grand hotels around the world, first-class flights, the sound of his strumming echoing throughout massive arenas.
“Who in their right mind would willingly walk away from this?’’ the founding Mumford member mused in a pained confessional he posted to Medium.
“It turns out I would.’’
It started, as these stories often do, with a tweet. In early March, Marshall sent out a message praising author Andy Ngo for his best-selling book, “Unmasked: Inside Antifa’s Radical Plan to Destroy Democracy.’’
“Congratulations @MrAndyNgo,’’ he wrote. “Finally had the time to read your important book. You’re a brave man.”
You’d think he’d championed animal sacrifice from the holy hell his words unleashed — tens of thousands of angry retweets in just the first 24 hours, Marshall quickly apologized, and seemed ready to self-censor, believing he must have missed some flaw in Ngo’s work.
How could so many people be wrong?
“I’ve had plenty of abuse over the years. I’m a banjo player after all,’’ he wrote “’But this was another level.’’
But on Thursday, he officially rescinded the apology. It’s about integrity.
“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,’’ he wrote. “The truth is that [Ngo’s] reporting on extremism at the great risk of endangering oneself is unquestionably brave. 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.’’
His bandmates, by the way, have expressed support for Marshall. But he believes remaining in the group will force his colleagues to endure endless and awful attacks. So he’s walking away from a career he loves in order to freely speak out against progressive hatred, cancel culture and all manner of deep and soul-crushing political correctness.
“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.’’
He’s made his choice. And he’s not the only one.
Last year, columnist and editor Bari Weiss, now 37, walked away from The New York Times after penning an open resignation letter declaring that Twitter was the newspaper’s “ultimate editor.’’
Weiss, a rare centrist on The Gray Lady’s pages, described the horrific abuse she’d been subjected to by co-workers. “My own forays into Wrongthink have made me the subject of constant bullying by colleagues who disagree with my views,’’ she wrote. “They have called me a Nazi and a racist. . . .
“Still other New York Times employees publicly smear me as a liar and a bigot on Twitter with no fear that harassing me will be met with appropriate action. They never are.’’
So she quit the place that provided what must have once seemed like her dream job, which descended into a nightmare. As with Marshall, she refused to keep quiet just to get along. This was about maintaining her integrity.
Heroism comes in all shapes, sizes, races and career paths, from journalists to banjo players. Winston Marshall and Bari Weiss refused to compromise their principles, and it cost them. They should be applauded.
But they shouldn’t have had to make their sacrifices in the first place.
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