Dear NRA: Putting KKK Hoods on Beloved Childhood Characters Probably Isn’t the Best Strategy

Nobody ever said Thomas the Tank Engine was a racist. Geez.

NRATV

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The producers of Thomas the Tank Engine’s decades-old hit television show recently made Thomas & Friends more modern. They changed the theme song and brought in new female characters, including Nia, a train from Kenya created in cahoots with the UN. “Through Nia, we’re able to see an African character really taking a leadership role as a female engine with lots of strong values and goals, herself,” Women’s Africa program adviser Tolulope Lewis-Tamoka told CBS News.

But over at Relentless, a show on NRATV—the TV channel of the National Rifle Association—NRA spokesman Dana Loesch didn’t see why Thomas & Friends needed ethnic diversity. After all, Thomas and his friends are gray and blue. 

“How do you bring ethnic diversity? I mean they had to paint, what I guess they thought was some sort of African pattern on the side of Nia’s engine?” Loesch says in a video clip shared by Media Matters. “How do you bring ethnic diversity to a show that literally has no ethnicities because they’re trains. They don’t even have skin pigmentation. Was there some concern that the show had racist undertones? ”

The segment then cuts to Thomas and his friends riding on flaming tracks and wearing white KKK hoods. “I get it. Thomas the Tank Engine has been a blight on race relations for far too long,” Loesch told viewers. “Clearly this is overdue, right? Seriously, with trains?”

Classy.

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We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

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