Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, a frequent critic of President Trump since prior to the 2016 election, gave a speech on a video posted to Twitter Sunday that has quickly gone viral. In it, he compares last week's siege on the Capitol by Trump supporters to Kristallnacht — the night in 1938 when mobs in Austria and Germany, spurred by the lies of Nazis, burned synagogues, homes, and Jewish-owned businesses — and discusses how immigrants and people in foreign countries were pained by seeing American democracy in such chaos.
Referring to the members of the mobs that participated in Kristallnacht as "the Nazi equivalent of the Proud Boys," Schwarzenegger says that last week's attack on the Capitol was not just an act of physical violence and vandalism. "The mob did not just shatter the windows of the Capitol. They shattered the ideas we took for granted... They trampled the very principals on which our country was founded."
My message to my fellow Americans and friends around the world following this week's attack on the Capitol. pic.twitter.com/blOy35LWJ5— Arnold (@Schwarzenegger) January 10, 2021
He also got very personal describing the men in the Austrian town he grew up in, including his own abusive father, as "broken men, drinking away their guilt over their participation in the most evil regime in history."
Schwarzenegger, who is now 73, has a unique perspective on the current political climate not only as a former Republican politician but as an immigrant from a former Nazi-occupied country. He spoke of how quickly a country can slip into the grips of authoritarianism, and said, "It all started with lies, and lies, and lies, and intolerance."
"President Trump is a failed leader," Schwarzenegger says. "He will go down in history as the worst president ever. The good thing is he will soon be as irrelevant as an old tweet."
The seven-minute speech almost certainly had a speechwriter, and it goes off the rails a bit when he pulls out Conan's sword and compares the strength of the steel of the sword to American democracy. But hopefully it won't be the last from a Republican that condemns mob violence, and the cult of Trumpism, in which ardent supporters are blindly listening to more and more of the man's lies and getting angry about a stolen election that is a piece of fiction created to protect Trump's ego.
Schwarzenegger also works in an important quote from Theodore Roosevelt that the Trumpist's likely haven't heard: "Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president."
You may recall that Schwarzenegger announced in 2016 that he would not be voting for Trump, and it would be the first time since he became a United States citizen that he was not voting for a Republican candidate in an election. Schwarzenegger was, at the time, shooting The New Celebrity Apprentice for NBC, taking over as host from Trump, and when the show began airing around the time of the inauguration in January 2017, Trump was quick to take shots at the show's poor ratings.