There is a way that seems right to egocentric man, but leads to conflict, division, and ultimately to destruction. Many have taken that way, and history recognizes some of the worst. But some harmful demagogues are not recognized as such, because they claim to be, and may even think they are, divinely inspired.
Throughout history, proud and militant demagogues have appealed to the ego, emotions and prejudices of frightened people in order to gain power. And the scoundrels have usually taken refuge in religiosity and patriotism as they do even today, waving the flag, thumping their bible, and rattling their sword, blind to the fact that it will be the humble, gentle, peaceful and meek who will ultimately inherit the earth.
Today it is crucial for Americans to realize that the worst demagogues, and ironically most successful, did not only appeal to their people's feelings, emotions, prejudices and pride. They also appealed to their people's egocentric sense of superiority, whether based on religion, nationality, or race.
These days it is more important than ever to learn the lessons of history, because if the most important lessons of history had already been widely learned and understood, people would no longer be misled and fooled by right-wing demagogues. Instead, the humble, gentle, peaceful and "meek" majority of people in the world would have already inherited the earth.
That hasn't happened yet, and the lessons of history have not been widely learned and understood yet, because too many gullible people have listened to proud, aggressive, militant, deceptive demagogues who claimed, and may have even believed, that they served God and Country.
Take a conspicuous example, Adolf Hitler. He was the epitome of a demagogue, and most of us can see how blatantly evil he was. However, what most people do not know about Hitler is that he claimed to be "fulfilling God's will."
In his speeches and in his book, Mein Kampf, Hitler made a point of claiming he was a Christian and was "fighting for the work of the Lord." In other words, Hitler masqueraded as a Christian in the eyes of his people. Hitler also appealed to the ego of the German people, and to their fears, emotions and prejudices. He condemned and made scapegoats of certain groups of people of a different race, religion, nationality, culture, and sexual orientation. He also appealed to German nationalistic pride with his hegemonic imperialistic agenda, tempting them with the idea that they were superior and should rule the world.
Now, doesn't that sound a little familiar?
In America we have had demagogic right-wing partisan ideologues who have done, and are still doing, the same thing. They've claimed they were doing the "right thing," and some have even claimed they were "doing God's will." They've appealed to the ego of the American people, and to their fears, emotions and prejudices. They've also appealed to American nationalistic pride with their hegemonic imperialistic global agenda, tempting Americans with the idea that they are superior and should rule the world.
These demagogues want to perpetuate what's been going on for the last thirty years in America. After all, because Ronald Reagan was a charming and effective television pitch man (and as an actor had his best role as president), he made it seem like a good thing to wave the flag, thump your bible and rattle your sword for the sake of righteousness, patriotism, and national pride. Consequently, ever since then we've had right-wing partisan politicians doing the same thing, claiming to be Christians serving God and Country.
Ronald Reagan was and still is loved by Americans who have a Nineteenth Century imperialistic world view. They unwittingly perpetuate the idea of "manifest destiny," which stemmed from the idea of "divine right." It was originally established by Christian emperors in the fourth century, and it was perpetuated by Christian kings and queens even after the Protestant Reformation. In America in 1823 it led to a "Doctrine of Discovery," officially incorporated into U.S. Indian policies in a Supreme Court ruling which negated the Jeffersonian doctrine of respect and fairness, and instead declared that Native Americans (Indians) had no rights. It opened the door to unconscionable and forceful Westward expansion by European American immigrants.
The U.S. Doctrine of Discovery dates back to the Fifteenth Century in Europe, when it declared the "divine right" of European "Christian" kings and queens to invade and occupy the lands of Native indigenous peoples all over the world. It dehumanized indigenous peoples as "heathens and uncivilized savages" with no rights to land.
Now, granted, we've evolved a lot since then. But, modern American "globalism" or Neo-Imperialism also negatively impacts many people in the world. And it is very important to understand that the political and religious doctrines that justify it are based on a distortion of Christianity -- a distortion which created the basic doctrine of supremacy and superiority established in the fourth century. Since then it has perfectly suited emperors, kings, queens, and subsequent heads of state who were quick to grasp such a convenient ostensible reason for gaining greater wealth, power, and domain in the world -- in effect, to plunder the world.
The founding fathers of the United States of America understood that very well. They understood that Christianity had been just as distorted and coopted by theocrats as Islam had been, and for the same reasons, because tyrants have always masqueraded as good. So, understanding the need for real religious freedom, the founding fathers wanted to prevent theocratic takeover by "religious" hypocrites and bigots. That's what the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution are all about.
Thomas Jefferson understood it better than anyone, which is why he clearly explained that the freedom of religion clause in the U.S. Constitution was designed to build "a wall of separation between church and state." In Jefferson's writings, he made it very clear that the founding fathers wanted not only freedom of religion, but freedom from theocracy and religious bigotry. And the writings of James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, John Adams and others also made that very clear.
Unfortunately, with the Doctrine of Discovery, which was established when Jefferson's health began to fail a few years before he died, the intent of the founding fathers began to be ignored. And when the "Christian Right" rose to power in America in 1981 with Ronald Reagan, they totally ignored the clear intent of the founding fathers. In fact, they've made it a point to deny it and have falsely claimed that the founding fathers wanted America to be "the land of Jesus" and a "Christian Nation," in spite of the facts of the matter.