Total Pageviews

Tuesday, December 1, 2015


I have all respect for police officers, considering the nature and danger of their job, but there is the matter of responsibility. And self-control. Regarding the series of events in recent years wherein (usually) white police officers kill black men or teens who are usually either unarmed or armed with lesser caliber weapons than the officers, a thought occurred to me after hearing (yet again) how the (usually) white police officer shot the black person because the officer "feared for his life." 

You would think if there was one occupation where the ability to control NOT being in fear for your life would be a required prerequisite, being a police officer would be that job. And since many police officers are combat vets, you would think being able to maintain your calm and NOT let a dangerous situation make you act violently and impulsively out of fear would be something they were already familiar with. 

But maybe investigation would find that the majority of these officers who do shoot black people were combat vets and that maybe THAT is the problem in itself -- being involved in chaotic firefights where you might be tempted to "let all hell break loose" in a fearful encounter out of fear for your life or in revenge after seeing your fellow soldiers and friends killed. 

More needs to be done to train police officers to be able to respond appropriately and proportionally to threats. I find it very hard to buy the "I feared for my life" response when the officer has a gun and is 10 feet away from a suspect who is armed with a rock or a knife or nothing at all. Maybe it’s a matter of prevention. Perhaps better psychological evaluations are needed to prevent ex-vets with PTSD from becoming police officers in the first place. 

And for those officers already in the field, why don't they train them to use Tasers, or to shoot for the legs in such situations instead of "kill zones"? And I can't help but wonder what the statistics are for incidents of officers killing unarmed or lesser-armed suspects who are white instead of brown, compared to the scenarios we've been seeing over and over again. 

Is it just a matter of white officers fearing black males as opposed to white males in an otherwise similar police / suspect encounter? What's sad is that I even have to ask such tragic questions at all in this day and age. Sometimes I feel like D.W. Griffith’s unapologetically pro-Klan and unabashedly racist film "Birth of a Nation" was made a year ago instead of a century ago.

Monday, May 4, 2015


Not far from our mosque in Chino, there's a Goodwill thrift store where I often go looking for used books -- James Lee Burke, Lee Child, Walter Mosley, John D. MacDonald, et al. So what usually happens is I'm riding my bike heading for the main intersection where the Goodwill is, and I sometimes get this "urging" to go in there because there's something cool I need to check out. I've learned to listen to this quiet insistence (my being nudged, as it were, by the Higher Power I call Allah) and I am always rewarded.

This time around (about a week ago), I get nudged to go inside and peruse. . . I see a Travis McGee novel (Darker than Amber) which I promptly snap up, plus a book called "Aromatherapy A-Z" which intrigues my didactic sensibilities, and I spy a Bradury classic: "Fahrenheit 451" -- but since I've already got a copy, I do no more than give it a loving glance of appreciation and fond remembrance.

But something keeps pulling me back to it, so finally I pull it out from between some cookbooks where it was resting (did the book shelver mistake it for recipes?) and I see that it's a 40th anniversary edition with a new introduction by its esteemed author. I open the nice-but-not-mint copy and there, on the inside front page, is the large looping scrawl of a signature: Ray Bradbury and a date: 3-18-94. O-M-G as the kids today would say.

Yes, I was seeing that right: a signed 40th anniversary edition of "Fahrenheit 451" !!! Needless to say, it was soon mine for a mere $3. And the oddest part of it was that, for some unknown reason, page 58-59 had been half torn from the tome. A fitting irony about a book where firemen "censored" books by setting them on fire.

And it got me to thinking about my "homage" to Bradbury's classic, something I'd written almost as an explanation to myself in answer to the question: How could such a state of affairs evolve in the modern age? My answer was the 5,000 words you see below -- "Mightier than the Sword" -- written before I changed my name after accepting Islam Ahmadiyya in 1994. (By the way, I have in my typewriter collection a 1929 Royal just like the one displayed in the title. Can you spot the "mistake" in the image? Hint: I wanted the typewriter to face toward the lettering in the title, not away from it, so I used a manipulation common in all graphic design programs. I used Quark to create the magazine-style portfolio of my writings (and some from a few friends) which I produced when I lived on Maui from 1996-2000. That's why the issue number is "0". . .  Enjoy!)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


Today, April 22nd, marks my 21st anniversary of emotionally / spiritually accepting Ahmadiyya Islam . . . I took Bai'at (initiation) on Jan. 22nd 1994, but that was essentially an intellectual, reason-based acceptance of the truth of Islam as it was presented by Ahmadiyyat & Mirza Ghulam Ahmad and his successors & scholars.
But it was after having a decidedly non-intellectual spiritual experience that I was convinced at the core of my being of the truth of the Promised Messiah and Imam Mahdi. You can check out my conversion story at the link below. At the 28-min. mark is where I start discussing my conversion directly.
Jonathan M.A.Ghaffar’s Oct. 11th 2012 1-hour radio interview: “How I became Ahmadi Muslim”