Arnold Schwarzenegger compares Capitol rioters to Nazis: ‘It all started with lies’

Francesca Gariano

Arnold Schwarzenegger addressed last week’s riots at the Capitol in a video statement posted to Twitter on Sunday.

In the seven-minute clip, the former Republican governor of California denounced Wednesday’s events and compared them to his childhood in Austria after World War II. In particular, he referenced far-right extremist group the Proud Boys.

“I grew up in Austria. I’m very aware of Kristallnacht or the Night of Broken Glass," he said. "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,” Schwarzenegger continued. “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 then talked of his past, explaining that he grew up “in the ruins of a country that suffered the loss of democracy." The actor was born in 1947, two years after the end of WWII. He said that during his childhood, he was surrounded by “broken men" who were overcome with their guilt “over their participation in the most evil regime in history."

“It all started with lies, and lies, and lies, and intolerance,” he said. “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.”

Schwarzenegger urged those listening to be aware of the consequences of “selfishness and cynicism.”

“President Trump sought to overturn the results of an election, and of a fair election,” he said. “He sought a coup by misleading people with lies. My father and our neighbors were misled also with lies and I know where such lies lead.”

Schwarzenegger went on to call President Trump a “failed leader” who will “go down in history as the worst president.”

“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?” he said. “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.’”

Schwarzenegger also criticized a "number of members" of his own party for "their own spinelessness."

“They’re complicit with those who carried the flag of self-righteous insurrection into the Capitol. But it did not work,” he said. “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.”

Schwarzenegger called for reforms to prevent similar events in the future and asked that the "people that brought us to this unforgivable point" be held accountable. The actor added that in order to heal as Americans, we had to look past ourselves, parties and disagreements to put democracy first.

To conclude his message, he asked viewers to join him in wishing President-elect Joe Biden success and offering his support. “If you succeed, our nation succeeds," he told Biden.

“And to those who think they can overturn the United States Constitution, know this: You will never win,” Schwarzenegger stressed. “President-elect Biden, we stand with you today, tomorrow, and forever in defense of our democracy from those who would threaten it."

Supporters of President Donald Trump swarmed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, creating a chaotic and violent scene that left five people, including Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, dead. Congress had to evacuate parts of the building and pause the ceremonial event confirming that Joe Biden won the November election, as Vice President Mike Pence was ushered to safety.

Biden and former first lady Michelle Obama were among the many public figures who condemned the rioters. Obama called the mob "infantile and unpatriotic" while Biden characterized the attack as "one of the darkest days in the history of our nation."