On Thursday, Winston Marshall, a guitar and banjo player from the musical group Mumford & Sons, the leading progenitor of the curiously massive mustache-and-suspenders-arena-rock trend, posted a long essay about why he’s quitting the band. Sure, but why are you, a top political news blogger, writing about this in the political news section of this excellent website? is what you’re asking. Here’s why, from the sixth paragraph of Marshall’s piece:
At the beginning of March I tweeted to American journalist Andy Ngo, author of the New York Times Bestseller, Unmasked. “Congratulations @MrAndyNgo. Finally had the time to read your important book. You’re a brave man”.
For the unfamiliar, Andy Ngo is a social media–era political provocateur; he purports to be an independent journalist objectively documenting extremist violence perpetrated by left-wing “antifa” activists but has been credibly accused of having a working partnership with also-quite-violent far-right white nationalist gangs, like the Proud Boys, with whom antifa groups often come into conflict.
Anyway, long story/essay about leaving Mumford & Sons short, Marshall apparently did not know this context when he tweeted about Ngo’s purported exposé and did not anticipate that his tweet would trigger online backlash from the left. He feels that the backlash has unfairly implicated his bandmates, and while he says he does not consider himself “right-wing” or endorse right-wing violence, he also says he would like to continue speaking out against what he believes to be the excesses of the left. In order to do so without hurting the other members of the band, he says, he must sever his ties with them. The section explaining this includes the phrase “On the eve of his leaving to the West, Solzhenitsyn published an essay titled ‘Live Not By Lies,’ ” which is a truly indelible string of words in the context of a web post explaining the internal personnel dynamics of a band in which (making an assumption here) one guy wears an old drum slung around his neck in the manner of a 14-year-old coordinating troop movements at the Battle of Yorktown.
In summary, Winston Marshall has made the incredibly poor choice to forgo future chances to perform with an enormously popular rock band (a literal dream scenario) in order to argue about “the left” online (a hideous and deflating activity that literally anyone can do) because of Soviet dissident Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. It’s possible that no one should ever read books.