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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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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