In a new book slamming “outrage culture” and calling for a society with more grace, former National Rifle Association spokesperson and conservative radio host Dana Loesch defends her past use of Klan imagery to mock a children’s show for adding diversity.
In Grace Canceled, released on February 25, Loesch writes that our society is “addicted” to “outrage,” which is a “toxic drug that kills reason, nuance and kindness,” according to a description of the book on Amazon. Fortunately, the former NRA spokesperson who previously defended conspiracy theorist Alex Jones is here to remind us that “the antidote to outrage is grace.” In the third chapter of a book that is supposedly meant to encourage “a generous and forgiving spirit,” Loesch defends her use of KKK hoods in an attempt to satirically mock the children’s show Thomas and Friends for trying to increase diversity among its characters.
On September 10, 2018, Media Matters published a clip of the segment in question, which aired on the now-defunct NRATV. During her show Relentless, Loesch sarcastically asked, “Am I to understand this entire time that Thomas and his trains were white?” She continued to lament that you cannot bring “ethnic diversity” to Thomas and Friends because the trains “don’t even have skin pigmentation,” before putting up an image of the trains wearing white Klan hoods.
The remarkably illogical reason for this, as explained in the book, is that unless there is clear and present racism, diversity is unnecessary and simply an attempt to find “cause for offense in everything.” Loesch accused Media Matters of pushing “propaganda” (by publishing a two-minute clip of her speaking, with a transcript, and no commentary) and “utterly ignoring the satire.”
Loesch’s segment was widely condemned, including by the cartoon’s creator, which issued a statement saying that it is “not associated with images that promote hate” and that it will “denounce any images of our brands that are being used to convey a message not in line with the values of the company.”
NRA board members were among those who panned the segment. Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre was reportedly “livid and embarrassed” and “apologized to the entire board” for the image before asking NRATV’s production company for the network’s metrics, which ultimately kicked off a series of multimillion-dollar lawsuits and led to the shutdown of NRATV and the ouster of Loesch as spokesperson.
While by far the most widely condemned, Loesch’s segment on Thomas the Tank Engine is not the only bigoted or offensive thing she did while appearing on NRATV. She has claimed she was the victim of a “public lynching” after appearing on a CNN townhall on gun violence prevention, said the Me Too movement “was an attempt to hijack real trauma,” and compared gun owners to rape survivors.
Given her track record, Loesch is one of the last people who should be lecturing anyone else on grace and tolerance. True grace would be apologizing for using such painful imagery to mock a cartoon’s attempt to “start meaningful conversations and learning between children and parents."