Arnold Schwarzenegger delivered a powerful video address on Sunday where he spoke about last week's Trump-led insurrection on the Capitol building. The video is stirring because he compares the insurrection with the struggles he saw growing up in post-World War II Austria.
Schwarzenegger's perspective on the historical event is valuable because, as an immigrant, he has strong feelings about the importance of American democracy that many native-born people take for granted.
He's also an experienced politician, serving as the two-term Republican governor of California, which makes him a credible critic of the president and his party.
Governor Schwarzenegger's Message Following this Week's Attack on the Capitol www.youtube.com
Schwarzenegger compares the Trump supporters who overtook the Capitol building to the people he grew up with who participated in Nazi atrocities. He believes that both groups were goaded into their behavior due to a campaign of lies.
"Not all of them were rabid anti-Semites or Nazis. Many just went along step by step down the road. They were the people next door," Schwarzenegger said.
The former governor says he was raised around people tormented by guilt.
"They were in physical pain from the shrapnel in their bodies and in emotional pain from what they saw or did. It all started with lies, and lies, and lies, and intolerance," Schwarzenegger said. "So being from Europe, I've seen firsthand how things can spin out of control."
In an emotional moment, the actor admitted that the same pain took root in his home.
"Now, I've never shared this so publicly because it is a painful memory. But my father would come home drunk, once or twice a week, and he would scream and hit us, and scare my mother," he said.
"I did not hold him totally responsible because our neighbor was doing the same thing to his family, and so was the next neighbor over," admitted. "I heard it with my own ears and saw it with my own eyes."
via Wikimedia Commons
Schwarzenegger sees similarities between the insurrection and Kristallnacht, the "Night of Broken Glass" in 1938 Nazi Germany. Over two nights, Nazi rioters destroyed thousands of Jewish-owned businesses and homes. At least 91 Jewish people were killed in the chaos.
The horrifying event brought the dangers of Nazi anti-Semitism to the world's attention and is often seen as the prelude to the Holocaust.
"The broken glass was the windows of the United States Capitol," he said. "But the mob did not just shatter the windows of the Capitol, they shattered the ideas we took for granted. They did not just break down the doors of the building that housed American democracy."
"They trampled the very principles on which our country was founded," Schwarzenegger continued.
However, "The Terminator" star believes that unlike Kristallnacht, after the insurgency, American democracy stood strong.
"Our democracy held firm," he said. "Within hours, the Senate and the House of Representatives were doing the people's business and certifying the election of President-Elect Biden. What a great display of democracy."
Schwarzenegger's message has been viewed millions of times on social media because he does a wonderful job of explaining the mentality of those who wish to harm our nation while providing hope for the country moving forward.
The seven-time Mr. Olympia also provided a powerful metaphor for the resiliency of American democracy by comparing it to the sword he wielded in 1982's "Conan the Barbarian."
"The more you temper a sword, the stronger it becomes," he said. "Now, I'm not telling you all this because I want you to become an expert sword maker, but our democracy is like the steel of this sword. The more it is tempered, the stronger it becomes. Our democracy has been tempered by wars, injustices, and insurrections."
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