We need more dissidents

As Winston Marshall, who quit Mumford & Sons, said: "Gnaw my conscience."

You want to know what a rural southern Baptist church in northwest Georgia has in common with Twitter?

It’s this: If you dissent from the commonly held beliefs, you’ll be shunned as a dissident.

To be a dissident, you must first be accepted as part of the group that now seeks to expel you. A Muslim cannot be a dissident in a rural Georgia church, and a Trumpist cannot be a dissident on Twitter. Twitter is ruled by far-left very online people, who run the company that provides the service, rule the “blue checkmark” brigades with the most followers, and in general police the media to reward those who agree with them, and ostracize those who don’t.

Let me get this part out of the way, to appease the pedants. Yes, yes, tell me there’s plenty of conservatives, and even Trump humpers on Twitter. They have to be there, because the leftists who run it need people to quote tweet and to denigrate, and to point out as the most horrible of gutter trash.

You can also tell me there’s plenty of non-believers who are (and should be) welcome in church. But those seekers are there to hear the Gospel and be saved—nobody wants to hear their opinion on the exegesis of John 16. The “other” in our midst cannot become dissidents any more than a Brit ex-pat living in Hong Kong can truly be a dissident. The “other” can go home to somewhere else where they’re from, and find family, friends and supporters there. The dissident has to live in exile.

Winston Marshall is a musician. He’s the banjo player in the popular band (Variety calls them “folk rock”) Mumford & Sons. Winston Marshall read too much Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, and also read a forbidden book by Andy Ngo detailing the excesses, hypocrisy, and downright fascist tactics of the far-left. That in itself isn’t enough to get him canceled, because if he kept his mouth shut and just played banjo, nobody would know or care what he does in his personal time.

But Marshall tweeted something about Ngo and his book. A traitor had been found in the midst of blue checkmark land. It’s the equivalent of northwest Georgia Baptists finding out their worship leader at church raises goats for Satanists to sacrifice in his spare time, or that Sidney Powell is on the payroll of Fusion GPS. Action had to be taken.

After “tens of thousands of angry retweets and comments,” Marshall realized that he stepped on a landmine. “I failed to foresee that my commenting on a book critical of the Far-Left could be interpreted as approval of the equally abhorrent Far-Right,” he wrote in his farewell post announcing that after three months of reflection, he is leaving Mumford & Sons.

Marshall really suffered from a different failure of vision. He failed to realize that by having a blue checkmark on Twitter, and being part of a popular band that had no political lean, he was assumed by the far leftists who run that place to be one of them. When they realized that Marshall thinks for himself, not as part of a hive-mind, they labeled him a dissident and a “fascist.”

Nothing could be further from the truth. Thirteen members of my family were murdered in the concentration camps of the Holocaust. My Grandma, unlike her cousins, aunts and uncles, survived. She and I were close. My family knows the evils of fascism painfully well. To say the least. To call me “fascist” was ludicrous beyond belief.

It’s the dissident’s lot in life to suffer and live in exile. And those who the dissident loves also suffer.

I’ve had plenty of abuse over the years. I’m a banjo player after all. But this was another level. And, owing to our association, my friends, my bandmates, were getting it too. It took me more than a moment to understand how distressing this was for them.

So Marshall decided, rather grovel before the mob, then shut up and suffer their eternal wrath, he would embrace the role of dissident, quoting Solzhenitsyn. “Rub your eyes and purify your heart — and prize above all else in the world those who love you and who wish you well.” He expressed his regret and then listened and reflected, because a dissident is first and foremost an independent critical thinker embedded in a hive-minded mob.

“The truth is that reporting on extremism at the great risk of endangering oneself is unquestionably brave,” Marshall concluded about Ngo. “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.”

Marshall quit the band he loved because to stay would “gnaw my conscience.” A true dissident, he will now live in exile. The true “woke” is to wake up to critical thought, with all the arrows and poison darts that attracts from the crowd who assumed you were one of them, and embrace the dissident label.

Like Marshall, we conservatives need more dissidents. What I find is a cottage industry in Trump grift. It exists on the side raising cash to show “incontrovertible proof” that North Korean fake ballots were delivered to the coast of Maine and somehow found their way to Georgia’s Fulton County and Maricopa County Arizona to push Joe Biden over the top.

It exists on the side of the benighted Lincoln Project, which became a cash cow for a predatory gay sex fiend and those who lined their pockets with Never Trump money. Both the Trumpist and Never Trump movements are eaten up by hucksters, grifters, media remora, and merch hawkers whose primary goal is taking money from unsuspecting rubes.

True dissidents are frequently thrown in the same pool as the grifters, and in fact it’s hard to tell who’s who sometimes. Is Jeff Flake a grifter or a dissident? I’m pretty sure Sen. Mitt Romney is a dissident, because he doesn’t need the money or the fame. Is Gov. Brian Kemp a dissident—he has a lot to lose and a lot to gain from going with the crowd but I believe he’s a critical thinker. What about Mike Pence?

The fact that there are so many “I don’t knows” means we need more dissidents. We need more people like Winston Marshall, on the right, who are not afraid to walk away, but do it with class and powerful words.

Every day many of us, including my fellow Racketeers, feel the same thing as Winston Marshall. It gnaws my conscience.

If you’re not familiar with Mumford & Sons, here’s a sample of their work. Good stuff.


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