NRA TV dress up Thomas the Tank engine and friends as KKK

In protest of the show's measures to increase diversity

Jack Shepherd
Friday 14 September 2018 11:21
Dana Loesch puts KKK masks on Thomas the Tank on NRA TV

The National Rifle Association's (NRA) television channel has become renown for broadcasting controversial images, but few have been quite as bizarre as one depicting Thomas the Tank Engine as a member of the Ku Klux Klan.

The organisation, who advocate for gun rights in America, decided to target Thomas & Friends after the children's TV show partnered with the United Nations to increase diversity on the programme.

Earlier this month, various new characters were introduced to the show, including Isla, an Australian flying doctor; Hong-mei, a number 1 blue tank engine from China; and Churubala, a female railway controller from India. They also brought voice actress Yvonne Grundy on board for an African-inspired locomotive.

A producer on the show said: “The changes and new additions of characters and geographies will make the show more entertaining, inclusive and global – while ensuring all the favourite characters and storylines that fans around the world love remain at the heart of the action.”

However, Dana Loesch, host of NRA TV's show Relentless, attacked the show while standing next to an image of the trains wearing white KKK hoods, with the train tracks on fire.

"This is horrible," Loesch said of the new characters. "That's where it gets really strange to me. Am I to understand this entire time that Thomas and his trains were white? Because they all have grey faces. 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."

A statement from the owners of Thomas the Tank Engine, Mattel, reads: "We are not associated with images that promote hate and denounce any images of our brands that are being used to convey a message not in line with the values of the company."

Thomas the Tank Engine was created by Rev Awdry, a vicar in the parish of St Nicholas, Birmingham. After first telling his tale of the anthropomorphised train in 1942 to his son, he went on to send three stories to a publisher after being encouraged by his wife.

In 1945, The Three Railway Engines was published, becoming a huge success and resulting in a further 26 Railway books being published.

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