There’s been a lot of talk about the Q-Anonesque “Sound of Freedom” movie. Whether factual or not, there has also been discussion about Tim Ballard, the man behind the movie being a phony. The truth is, the film itself is a fraud. A wholly fictional tale claiming to be based on a true story – however loosely – and duping people into believing it’s a real account. It’s not.

Not even close.

And yet, despite all of that, there’s a lack of focus on its most problematic narrative: that U.S.-related human smuggling is a Latin American problem. What the movie glosses over is more dangerous than any premise it intends to portray. When it comes to human exploitation, trafficking, and child sexual assault in the United States, the worst offenders are those with social power: educators, law enforcement, federal authorities, pastors, and people who are often close to their victims.

Human trafficking and sexual exploitation of minors are major issues worldwide. We’ve heard about human smuggling for decades throughout Asia and the Pacific, all over Europe, and in Northern Africa just as much as we’ve heard about it at our southern border. What we rarely hear about, however, are the networks and the culprits right here at home.

After the earthquake in Haiti in 2010, for example, U.S. citizens, many representing religious organizations, were caught trafficking children to the U.S. At the time, the Department of State was publicly cracking down on not just faith-based groups illegally taking Haitian children and trafficking them, but pedophiles as well.

This is why diminishing the issue like the Sound of Freedom does is inappropriate and quite frankly, dangerous. Most who have watched it now believe they have a thorough understanding of how trafficking works. And while the film provides a less-than-adequate entry-level idea of the severity of the problem, the intentional glossing over of facts is based on QAnon nonsense from the past several years. In other words, it’s a propaganda film and it scapegoats Latinos.


Sound of Freedom hit first place in the box office this week. The movie valorizes Tim Ballard and his group Operation Underground Railroad. Here’s a snapshot of the long history of dubious claims made by Ballard and his group about the work they do. #soundoffreedom #soundoffreedommovie #angelstudios #timballard #jimcaviezel #antitraffickingprograms #godschildrenarenotforsale #news #movie #movieclips #boxoffice #vice

♬ [Drama companion] Case, investigation, suspect investigation – Yuki Hotta
Listen to a brief of investigations on Tim Ballard undertaken by Motherboard

Sure, you see some white people involved in some of the activity in the movie but the smugglers are all Latino, afro-Latino, or Indigenous in appearance. A caricature based on more than a century of Ku Klux Klan-type anti-Latino propaganda. When it comes to movies, however, this isn’t new. Every white savior film ever made has a non-white strawman and in The Sound of Freedom, it’s the Latino immigrant.

This will likely be the next volley used to bombard undocumented immigrants already in the United States and those at the US-Mexico border. It will be used as a propaganda tool that it was meant to be in promoting white Christian male superiority – despite the truth about the status quo today and this country’s horrifying history as a product of colonization.

What it won’t be used for is to attack melanin-deficient perpetrators.

There is no doubt that human smuggling and trafficking are serious issues that need to be addressed and the attention the issue is getting is welcomed. But Q-Anon-level fantasies are dangerous and detract from the problem. Meanwhile, organizations like the one behind this film enrich a few and use much-needed funds – leaving little to address the problem more directly.

That’s the real shame in all of this.

To get an idea of how pervasive the problem is in the United States, check out Violent Crimes Against Children news on the FBI’s website.

For additional resources click here.

If you or someone you know is a victim of human trafficking, contact the Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or visit their website here.

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Arturo Dominguez

Arturo is an anti-racist political nerd. He is an upcoming author, journalist, advocate for social justice, and a married father of three. He is a top writer on Medium and a regular contributor to several news media outlets. He writes educational and informative material about systemic racism, white supremacy, and racial injustice.

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