A book that already caused a row at one of America’s leading independents has now led a member of a leading British folk-rock band as one of its victims. Guitarist-banjoist Winston Marshall has quit the chart-topping, arena-playing Mumford & Sons following a tweet he sent congratulating the conservative journalist Andy Ngo for writing Unmasked: Inside Antifa’s Radical Plan to Destroy Democracy.
The title, published by Center Street, the politically conservative imprint of Hachette US, is now enjoying a new burst of publicity as a result. The publisher says Ngo is ‘a journalist who’s been attacked by Antifa [and has written] a deeply researched and reported account of the group’s history and tactics.’
Marshall tweeted: ‘Congratulations. Finally had time to read your important book. You’re a brave man.’ The tweet led to an online backlash eventually forcing Marshall to leave the band to save them from being similarly vilified. In a blog post he wrote: ‘I have spent much time reflecting, reading and listening. 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….
‘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 … 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.’
The book already caused ugly scenes at Powell’s Books in Portland Oregon which had to close early on some days to ensure staff safety after protesters covered its windows with posters saying ‘Say Ngo to Fascism’. It has also received a torrent of criticism on social media.
‘Antifa’ stands for ‘anti-fascism’ and has its roots in the anti-fascist movements of the Twenties and Thirties in Europe. With the rise of the ‘alt-right’ and the arrival of Donald Trump as president, it became more active in the US in the last ten years.