Abuja (Sundiata Post) – Arnold Schwarzenegger issued a stinging rebuke of Donald Trump on Sunday, comparing the riot at the US Capitol which the president incited to Kristallnacht, the night in November 1938 when Nazi thugs attacked Jewish Germans and their property, a harbinger of horrors to come.
He also compared American democracy to a weapon he wielded onscreen as Conan the Barbarian nearly 40 years ago, saying: “Our democracy is like the steel of this sword. The more it is tempered, the stronger it becomes.”
In a video posted to social media and scored to rousing classical music, the 73-year-old former Republican governor of California said he “would like to say a few words to my fellow Americans and to our friends around the world about the events of recent days”.
“I grew up in Austria and was very aware of Kristallnacht, or the Night of Broken Glass,” he said. “It was a night of rampage against the Jews carried out [by] the Nazi equivalent of the Proud Boys [a quasi-fascist group of Trump supporters].”
“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. It has shattered the ideals 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.”
Five people died as a result of the putsch at the Capitol, one a police officer reportedly struck with a fire extinguisher and one a rioter shot by law enforcement. On Sunday it was reported that another officer had died, though it was not immediately clear if the death was related to the Capitol riot.
Trump will leave office on 20 January, having failed to overturn his election defeat by Joe Biden, the cause for which he told the mob to “fight like hell”. He faces calls to resign and a possible second impeachment.
Schwarzenegger described a traumatic childhood in post-war Austria, the son of a former Nazi party member.
“I have seen firsthand how things can spin out of control,” he said. “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 that we must be aware of the dire consequences of selfishness and cynicism. President Trump sought to overturn the results of an election. And a fair election. He sought a coup by misleading people with lies. My father and our neighbours were misled also with lies. I know where such lies lead.
“President Trump is a failed leader. 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.”
Schwarzenegger appealed to Americans’ patriotism and commended lawmakers who regathered after the assault on the Capitol to confirm Joe Biden’s victory, despite objections from 147 Republican representatives and senators.
He then picked up a sword which he said was used when he played Conan the Barbarian in a pair of early 80s fantasy films.
“Here’s the thing about swords,” he said. “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 … the more often you do that, the stronger it becomes.
“I’m not telling you this because you become an expert swordmaker. But our democracy is like the steel of this sword. The more it is tempered, the stronger it becomes.”
Banned by Twitter, with no official duties for the day and with the White House pool reporter sent home before noon, Trump did not immediately respond.