View Schwarzenegger’s video: https://youtu.be/x_P-0I6sAck
By Miriam Raftery
Rebecca Jefferis Williamson contributed to this story.
January 13, 2021 – California’s former Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, an Austrian immigrant, delivered a powerful video message in response to the insurrection at out nation’s capitol this week. He likened it to Kristallnact, a night of rampage in his native Austria carried out against Jews by the “Nazi equivalent of the Proud Boys.”
In an emotional tone, Schwarzenegger warned of where such actions can lead if left unchecked. He recalled growing up “in the ruins of a country that suffered the loss of its democracy,” adding, “Growing up, I was surrounded by broken men, drinking away their guilt over their participation in the most evil regime in history.” That included his own father and neighbors.
He recalled that it all started with “lies and intolerance” and warned that this could happen here. He blamed President Donald Trump for spreading lies to try and overturn “a fair election” adding. “He sought a coup by misleading people with lies.”
He quoted past leaders including Teddy Roosevelt and John R. Kennedy, a Republican and a Democrat, reminding Americans that patriotism means to stand by the country, not the president. He accused many Republicans of “spinelessness” who are “complicit with those that carried the insurrection…into the capitol.”
He noted that our democracy survived the siege, called for accountability of those responsible, and predicted that enemies of our democracy will never win. He also called for reforms and voiced confidence that “We will come out stronger because we now understand what can be lost.”
He urged all Americans to come together in saying, “President-elect Biden, we stand by you today, tomorrow, and forever in defense of our democracy from those who would threaten it.”
Below is a rough transcript of Schwarzenegger’s complete speech:
TRANSCRIPT OF ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER’S SPEECH
As an immigrant to this country, I would like to say a few words to my fellow Americans, to our friends around the world about the events of recent days.
I grew up in Austria.
I’m very aware of Kristallnacht, or the Night of Broken Glass.
It was a night of rampage against the Jews carried out in 1938 by the Nazi equivalent of the Proud Boys.
Wednesday was the day of broken glass right here in the United States.
The broken glass was in the windows of the United States Capitol.
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 the American democracy. They trampled the very principles on which our country was founded.
I grew up in the ruins of a country that suffered the loss of its democracy.
I was born in 1947 two years after the second world war.
Growing up, I was surrounded by broken men, drinking away their guilt over their participation in the most evil regime in history.
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.
Now, I’ve never shared this so publicly because it’s 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. I didn’t hold him totally responsible because our neighbor was doing the same thing to his family. And so was the next neighbor over.
I heard it my own ears and saw it with my own eyes.
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.
So being from Europe I’ve seen firsthand how things can spin out of control. I know there is a fear in this country and all over the world that something like this could happen right here.
I do not believe it is, but I do believe we must be aware of the dire consequences of selfishness and cynicism.
President Trump sought to overturn the results of an election and of a fair election. He sought a coup by misleading people with lies.
My father and our neighbors were misled also with lies. I know where such lies lead.
President Trump is a failed leader.
He will do down in history as the worst president ever. The good thing is he will soon be as irrelevant as an old tweet.
But what are we to make of those elected officials who have enabled his lies and his treachery?
I will remind them of what Teddy Roosevelt said, “Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president.
John K. Kennedy wrote a book called “Profiles in Courage.”
A number of members of my own party, because of their own spinelessness would never see their names in such a book. I guarantee you.
They’re complicit with those that carried the insurrection carried the self-righteous insurrection into the capitol.
But it did not work.
Our democracy held firm.
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.
Now, I grew up Catholic. I went to church, to catholic school, I learned the bible and catechism and all of this. And from those days I remember a phrase that is relevant today: a servant’s heart.
It means serving something larger than yourself. See what we need right now from our elected representatives is a public servant’s heart.
We need public servants that serve something larger than their own power. Or their own party.
We need public servants who will serve higher ideals. The ideals on which this country was founded. Ideals that other countries look up to.
Now over the past few days, friends from all over the world have been calling, and calling, and calling me. Calling me distraught and worried about this nation.
One woman was in tears about America. Wonderful tears of idealism about what America should be.
Those tears should remind us what America means to the world.
Now I’ve told everyone who has called that as heartbreaking as all this is, America will come back from these dark days and shine our lights once again.
Now when you see this sword? This is the Conan’s sword.
Now here’s the thing about swords: the more you temper a sword the stronger it becomes, the more you pound it with a hammer, and then heat it in the fire, and then thrust it into the cold-water and then pound it again and plunge it into the fire and into the water, the more thing (sic) you do that, the stronger it becomes.
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.
I believe, as shaken as we are by the about the events in recent days, we will come out stronger because we now understand what can be lost.
We need reforms, of course, so that this can never ever happens again. We need to hold accountable the people that brought us to this unforgivable point.
We need to look past ourselves, our parties, and our disagreements. Put our democracy first.
And we need to heal not as republican or democrat but as Americans. No matter what your political affiliation is.
I ask you to join me in saying to President-elect Biden, “President-elect Biden we wish you great success as our president. If you succeed, our nation succeeds.”
We support it with all our hearts, as you seek to bring us together.
And to those, who think they can overturn the United States’ Constitution, know this: you will never win.
I ask you to join me in saying to President-elect Biden, “We wish you great success President-elect Biden we stand by you today, tomorrow, and forever in defense of our democracy from those who would threaten it.”
May God bless all of you and may God Bless America.