David Cole writes:
Marlon’s sober assessment resonated with many people. His piece was reposted on hundreds of websites and online forums. Marlon’s words of wisdom were even immortalized in the 2006 book Of Thee I Speak: A Collection of Patriotic Quotes, Essays, and Speeches, alongside quotes from Abraham Lincoln, John Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Dwight Eisenhower, and Albert Einstein. (…)
I suppose it’s high time to admit that the author was yours truly. Marlon Mohammed was a crackhead I went to high school with in the early ’80s. He robbed me blind and died in a ditch several years later. I figured he owed me, so I used his name to write a piece that I knew the Times would never accept from a non-Muslim (in those days, I was a semi-regular contributor to the Times, so I knew the editors’ rules quite well). My goal was to break the ice, so to speak. Perhaps American Muslims were just waiting for one of their own to say what needed to be said. Maybe a piece in the Times would open the floodgates, at least a little.
“Marlon’s” op-ed was so popular, the Times ran another one in April ’02. However, if my objective had been to make it easier for Muslims to express self-criticism, I failed. The innumerable “fan” emails the Times forwarded to me (and the one it published in the paper) were all from non-Muslims thanking “Marlon” for speaking common sense. None were from Muslims thanking him for articulating their views.
If there is a “silent majority” of Muslims who reject self-pity in favor of self-examination, they stayed pretty damn silent after my op-ed.