In a nearly eight-minute long video released Sunday, Arnold Schwarzenegger called this week’s deadly riots at the U.S. Capitol the United States’ “day of broken glass,” comparing it to the Kristallnacht, which left dozens of Jewish people dead and thousands of homes and synagogues destroyed in Nazi Germany in 1938.
The former Republican governor of California also lambasted President Donald Trump, who had incited the violence, along with the elected officials who support him.
“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,” said Schwarzenegger, who recalled growing up in Austria in the years that followed Kristallnacht. “They did not just break down the doors of the building that house American democracy. They trampled the very principles on which our country was founded.”
Schwarzenegger spoke about being born two years after World War II, “surrounded by broken men drinking away their guilt over their participation in the most evil regime in history.” Not all were “rabid anti-Semites or Nazis,” he said, but many “just went along.”
He also discussed his father, who he said often came home drunk and became violent with his family just as his neighbors did with theirs.
“They were in physical pain from the shrapnel in their bodies and in emotional pain from what they saw or did,” Schwarzenegger said. “It all started with lies, and lies, and lies, and intolerance.”
Schwarzenegger accused Trump of similarly misleading people as he sought to overturn the results of a fair election, predicting “he will go down in history as the worst president ever.”
“The good thing is he soon will be as irrelevant as an old tweet,” the former governor said. “But what are we to make of those elected officials who have enabled his lies and his treachery?”
Schwarzenegger described some members of his own party spineless, calling them complacent in Wednesday’s violence.
“But it did not work, our democracy held through,” he said.
Schwarzenegger then called on officials and the public to support President-elect Joe Biden.
“To those who think they can overturn the United States Constitution, know this: ‘You will never win,’” the former governor said. Schwarzenegger ended on an optimistic note, comparing democracy to a sword that becomes stronger when tempered.
The California Republican has been critical of Trump for years, more recently about the president’s stance on climate change. As of Sunday afternoon, at least two senators from the Republican Party have joined Democrats in calling for Trump to step down over this week’s riots.