This week, WW examined three black separatist organizations that the Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled hate groups operating in Portland.
Natazar Ha Ahsh is a member of one of those groups, the Israelite School of Universal Practical Knowledge.
He is an "Officer of 5000"—a leadership title in the Israelite School—based out of Seattle. (Despite the SPLC's listing, none of the three black separatist organizations have significant membership or programs on the ground in Portland.)
He met WW at the Multnomah County central library before Christmas — a holiday he views as a racist lie. He brought the group's only Portlander: a new soldier named David, who videotaped.
The group's street-corner proselytizing "camps" have included violence. But this interview was calm. Here is what he has to say about being deemed a purveyor of hate by the nation's leading watchdog.
WW: Do you have any comment on the SPLC's listing you as a hate group?
Natazar Ha Ahsh: The ISUPK has no comment about them, other than, they label us as a hate group because we love our people.
I think they would say it's because of the anti-gay rhetoric, anti-white rhetoric, that when you talk about people based on immutable characteristics, it equals hate.
We don't call white people the devil because they're white. We're basing this on a history, a well-documented history of the acts committed against us on this earth. That has to be understood: This isn't a color thing with us. The word 'devil' simply means deceiver. That's all it means. … This is why we refer to the white man as the devil, because of the lies. And again, because of the acts committed against us.
What's the hardest thing about being a black separatist in Portland?
The fact of the matter is, our people don't want to separate from this system. They're comfortable here. They've learned how to accept, for lack of a better word, the bullshit. And the bullshit has become the norm. It's normal to have a cousin that got killed by another black man … a little girl that is at the strip club, shaking her behind, for our people to be on crack cocaine.
Have you seen growing numbers under Trump?
Especially with Obama in office, what that did to our people was give them a false idea of inclusion in this society, or in this system. Then the smack in the face came, and here's Trump. The exact opposite of what Obama was. For the record, Obama is not one of our people either.
Anything I haven't asked about you would like to talk about?
Okay, this is one question: what do you think black people should do in America?
I don't have the answer to that.
Well, what do you think that hasn't already been tried?
I don't have the answer, but I think that we all have a responsibility to engage in things that we believe in to try to do good, for the common good.
Should that idea, would it be better suited if black people exercised that school of thought with themselves and white people exercised that school of thought with themselves? … Everything else has been tried. With integration, every time you see a cop killing a kid, you're seeing the result of integration, that's all you're seeing. So actually, integration has brought forth murder.
Do you see any irony to the fact that when you say things like this, you're saying the same things that people like Steve Bannon are saying? Some of the white supremacists and Neo-Nazis say the same thing: They say integration's been a big mistake, we need to all go back to our separate camps.
That's the truth. Because let me hit you with this, just to bring in the Asian camp: They're separate. They are. They have their own vicinity, they follow their own culture, they even have their own streets. Right now. Right down the street, they have their own streets and their own language. They cater to themselves.
Some [of your] videos feature weaponry. Have you ever taken arms up against the state?
Christ said to be wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove. We understand the necessity of defense. Of defending ourselves. We're not going to take up arms against the state, we're not going to take up arms against anybody. We're not going to go attack anybody. We're here to gather our people.