Over the weekend, Mumford & Sons lead guitarist Winston Marshall committed the unpardonable sin of endorsing conservative journalist Andy Ngo’s book unmasking antifa. The woke mob raised a ruckus, and Marshall’s own bandmates appear to have bought into the specious claim that any opposition to antifa agitators somehow makes a person “fascist.”
“Over the past few days I have come to better understand the pain caused by the book I endorsed,” Marshall, who is British, said in a statement on Twitter. “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 a result of my actions I am taking time away from the band to examine my blindspots.”
“For now, please know that I realize how my endorsements have the potential to be viewed as approvals of hateful, divisive behaviour. I apologize, as this was not at all my intention,” the guitarist concluded.
— Winston Marshall (@MrWinMarshall) March 10, 2021
Marshall had nothing to apologize for. His endorsement of Ngo’s book Unmasked did not endorse fascism and included nothing objectionable. “Congratulations [Andy Ngo]. Finally had the time to read your important book. You’re a brave man,” the short tweet read.
Ngo is indeed a brave man. He took to the streets to cover antifa agitators who engaged in violence in Portland. Antifa agitators thew “milkshakes” at him, hurled projectiles at him, punched him, and kicked him. He continued to report on their activities and law enforcement’s actions to hold them accountable.
Over the summer, the antifa riots that had long plagued Portland spread across the country. Black Lives Matter protests following the death of George Floyd devolved into looting, rioting, and arson, and antifa agitators played a key role in this violence. Yet the legacy media denied the violence and destruction, claiming the riots were “mostly peaceful protests.”
Antifa agitators and other leftist activists have demonized Ngo and others who call out antifa violence, claiming that any disagreement with antifa’s far-left aims is tantamount to support for fascism.
Ngo and others like him face harassment for daring to oppose the Left’s orthodoxy and tell the truth about the Left’s violence.
While many conservatives rightly condemned Marshall’s decision to cave to the outrage mob, conservative commentator Erick Erickson noted that the mob’s pressure is real and can be quite terrifying. “Having faced cancel culture, I’d note that most of those attacking [Marshall] for apologizing don’t know what he is dealing with,” Erickson wrote.
“When the wokes tried to cancel me, they didn’t just come for me. They harassed my family. They harassed my kids’ school. They called my employer, my parents, and even tried to get my sisters,” Erickson noted. “People who are caught off guard by it or who have no support system or are surrounded by people sympathetic to the wokes are naturally going to try to make it stop through groveling apology.”
“Winston will be fine. His family is very wealthy. But the intensity of the wokes is terroristic and it is why I don’t regret calling them Woke-O Haram. Any response to them needs to show more grace than they do instead of echoing their vitriol,” Erickson concluded.
Ngo showed this kind of grace in his response.
“I grieve for those who are made to suffer because they dare to read my work, or talk to me. The danger of Antifa & their allies is not only their willingness to carry out or support maiming, killing & terrorism—but also how they close curious minds from independent thought,” the author noted.
I grieve for those who are made to suffer because they dare to read my work, or talk to me.
The danger of Antifa & their allies is not only their willingness to carry out or support maiming, killing & terrorism—but also how they close curious minds from independent thought.
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) March 10, 2021
Cancel culture is real; it is terrifying; and it aims to silence dissent. It remains true that Marshall should not have caved to the woke mob, but Erickson made a good point — conservatives need to show compassion in addition to fortitude. As a Christian, I believe the true antidote to the self-righteous orthodoxy of cancel culture is ultimately the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Only one human being is perfect, and He sacrificed Himself to save fallen humans from the punishment we rightly deserve. Even those who present themselves as champions of the oppressed have skeletons in their closets, and if a lack of perfection gets you canceled, no one on earth should have a platform.
All that said, the cancel culture mob isn’t just enforcing perfection — it’s enforcing a warped ideology. The mob targets those who speak the truth about biological sex, it targets those who combat the noxious idea that a hidden form of racism secretly controls American society, and it targets those who dare speak the truth about the violent antics of antifa.
Andy Ngo’s book is important — and the mob’s decision to “cancel” Winston Marshall for the sin of endorsing it only makes that book even more important.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.