How the Far-Right Gains Access to Latino Communities (OPINION)

Jan 27, 2023
1:25 PM

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

HOUSTON — In recent years the United States has seen far-right and often extremist views make their way into various Latino communities. Many were shocked to see an Afro-Cuban become the frontman for the Proud Boys, a white supremacist group founded by Gavin McInnes, an avowed racist. But to Latinos far and wide, Enrique Tarrio isn’t an oddity.

While the Latino community is just as accepting of the LGBTQ community as any other racial or ethnic group —if not more so— the stereotype that Latinos are more biased toward the queer community persists. The same implicit bias is often cast upon Black people too.

That’s why Trump-aligned political action committees, known as “PACs,” spent $6.5 million on ads targeting Latinos and Black people ahead of the 2022 midterm elections. Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas were especially targeted with Spanish-language flyers riddled with anti-trans rhetoric that reached Latino households through the mail

It’s all part of an overall strategy to recruit as many Latinos and other non-white people into the fold, with the purpose of growing a base of support to achieve certain goals while inevitably turning on those non-white people when the moment calls for it. This phenomenon is a lot more common than many people think.

In addition to the flyer blitz, the former strategist for Donald Trump and founder of America First Legal, Steven Miller, also ran ads claiming the Biden administration was promoting “anti-white” bigotry and that the White House wants to “remove breasts and genitals.” A narrator in one of the ads says: “Not long ago, everyone knew that you’re either born a boy or a girl. Not anymore.”

Despite being more accepting statistically, Latino communities are just as susceptible to anti-LGBTQ animus as other groups. Anti-Blackness, anti-Semitism, and other forms of hate are as prevalent among Latinos as they are in white communities all over the country. Latinos have to contend with various forms of bigotry whether in the U.S. or Latin America—and this contention creates an avenue for extremists to expand their reach.

In recent years, homophobia and transphobia have acted as conduits for more open hateful ideologies within every racial and ethnic group. Anti-queer rhetoric provides an entry point for far-right actors to exploit in their recruitment efforts.

This isn’t to say that Latinos are joining hate groups in droves, but the use of hate speech and its prevalence are undeniable. What may begin as seemingly benign bias on Spanish-language radio or TV becomes full-blown intolerance online.

One doesn’t have to look far to find non-white actors espousing dangerous rhetoric aimed at non-white groups. From Enrique Tarrio and Nick Fuentes to Candace Owens and Diamond and Silk, non-white people supporting white nationalist ideas aren’t hard to come by. Whiteness is something that is perceived to be achievable by many various ethnicities —including a lot of Latinos— who want to take advantage of their proximity to whiteness despite white people in the U.S. considering “Latino” and “white” to be mutually exclusive categories. Whether socially or politically, white Latinos don’t exist to to non-Latino white people, and if their existence is acknowledged, they’re still “othered” the same as other non-white people.

This is why extremists employ more generalized bigotry to lure Latinos in. It’s similar to the tactic employed during anti-mask protests and Blue Lives Matter counterprotests. Rallying against more mainstream issues gives extremists and hate groups a large pool to recruit from—a strategy that’s been in use for more than 100 years, straight from the Ku Klux Klan’s playbook.

As the United States sees an increase in anti-LGBTQ hate and anti-Semitism with white Christian nationalist undertones, attacks on marginalized communities become more common. And as the majority of trans people killed are disproportionately Black or Latinx, it is incumbent on every one of our respective communities to address this bigotry head-on.

It’s never just a white-people problem. This one is on all of us.


Arturo Domínquez is a first-generation Cuban American, anti-racist, journalist, and the publisher of The Antagonist magazine. Twitter: @ExtremeArturo