Last March, Winston Marshall, founding member of Mumford & Sons, announced he would “take time” away from the group after being severely criticized for a tweet he posted praising the book Unmasked: Inside Antifa’s Radical Plan to Destroy Democracy, written by right-wing commentator Andy Ngo. At the time, Marshall apologized to people he had offended by co-signing the book, saying he would take the time to “review [his] blind spots. “
Today, Marshall announced his departure from Mumford & Sons in a self-published statement on Medium, in which he also retracted his apology:
I spent a lot of time thinking, reading and listening. The truth is that my comment on a book that documents the far left and their activities is by no means an equally disgusting endorsement of the far right. The truth is that reporting extremism at great risk of endangering oneself is unquestionably courageous. I also feel that my previous apologies participate to a small extent in the lie that such extremism does not exist, or worse, is a force for good.
At one point, Marshall invokes his family history as he tries to argue that any innuendo that he endorsed Ngo’s far-right views is incorrect:
Nothing could be further from the truth. Thirteen members of my family were murdered in Holocaust concentration camps. My grandmother, unlike her cousins, aunts and uncles, survived. She and I were close. My family is painfully familiar with the evils of fascism. To say the least. Calling myself a “fascist” was ridiculous beyond belief.
Marshall says his reason for leaving Mumford & Sons is to be able to continue to speak freely on issues he deems important. “I could stay and continue to censor myself, but it will erode my sense of integrity. Eat my conscience. I have already felt this beginning, ”he writes. “The only way forward for me is to leave the group. I hope that by moving away from them I will be able to say what I think without them suffering the consequences. I leave with love in my heart and wish these three boys nothing but the best. I have no doubt that their stars will shine for a long time in the future.
Pitchfork has reached out to Mumford & Sons for comment and additional information.