When I was a child in the sixties of the 20th century I loved to watch the TV series Pipo de Clown. Together with his wife Mamaloe and daughter Petra they traveled through the world and experienced all kinds of adventures. A donkey called Nononono pulled their gypsy cart.
Although Pipo was a clown, he represented a rather serious character who dealt in an amicable and efficient way with the problems they encountered during their travels. The more clownish roles were featured by two rascals, Snuf en Snuitje (Sniff and Snout), the manager of the circus, Dikke Deur (‘Fat Director’), a gipsy called Felicio and an Indian called Klukkluk. The Indian had a speech impediment, wasn’t very smart, and not much of an Indian altogether. Political correctness wasn’t a hot issue in the sixties. Halfway through the series, a character called Mik, an African-American actor from the States who professed his career in the Netherlands was introduced in the series.
Years later, as a grown-up, I developed a more than average curiosity about the United States and its history. That history isn’t very kind to the Indians or African-Americans. In a violent surge, native American Indians were driven from their homelands. Up until today, discrimination against African-Americans is still rampant. Portraying Indians and African-Americans on TV as they used to in the sixties, is impermissible nowadays. Which doesn’t mean they are treated any better. Or, for that matter, strangers more in general. Right-wing populist opposition against persons who do not share their believes is widespread on this site and the other of the Atlantic. In the USA more notorious forerunners of these right-wing populists are the members of the Ku Klux Klan or KKK. A group of white supremacists who use violence and murder to reinforce their message. When I first heard or read about them I immediately started to call them the Klukkluksclan. Not yet fully grasping the significance of these terrorists.
All these memories and associations sprang to mind when we encountered the statue you can see in the picture in the city of Mazarrón. It’s from 2009 and represents a member of a fraternity that in Spain is called, among many other names, the Nazarenos. As the members of the KKK, they wear hooded masks and a robe. The name Nazarenos refers to Nazareth, a small village in Galilee (in modern-day Israel), where a boy called Jezus used to work with his father Jozef who was a carpenter. When he grew up the boy became somewhat of a populist himself, which didn’t do him much good, for the Romans that occupied his country nailed him to the cross. From which he subsequently died. But his followers cultivated his memory and founded a religion that still exists as Catholicism. A group of worshipers came under fire during the second wave of the KKK at the beginning of the 20th century. It must have been jealousy because the KKK members discovered that the Catholics in Spain wore their pointy hoods and robes already for centuries.
Every time I see the Nazarenos in pictures, on TV, or live, as with this statue, a lot of mixed messages cross my mind. They are not altogether positive.