Arnold Schwarzenegger has released a powerful 12-minute address urging anti-Semites to abandon their hateful ideologies and “choose strength”.
On Monday, the former action movie star and former governor of California shared the impassioned speech via Facebook in a video produced by ATTN, an “established” media company in Los Angeles.
“I don’t care how many hateful things you write online. I don’t care how many times you marched that ugly flag or what hateful things you said in anger. There is still hope for you,” he said in the video.
Schwarzenegger, who was the most recent Republican governor of California, began his address by describing the horrors he experienced while touring the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland. He also referred to his father, who was a member of the Nazi party, and his upbringing in Austria after the Second World War.
“When you walk through a place like Auschwitz, you feel a huge weight,” he said. “There are reminders everywhere of the horrors that happened there: The prisoners never claimed the suitcases . . . The log books were crossed with thousands of names, as if a cruel accountant had only measured death. The gas chambers with scratches in the walls from the fingers of those who tried to hold on to life. The crematorium where the Nazis tried to erase all their atrocities.”
Schwarzenegger said his comments were not aimed at people who were the targets of anti-Semitism, but instead, he wanted to address people who are motivated by hatred, the ones who perpetrate anti-Semitism.
“I want to talk to you if you’ve heard some conspiracy theories about Jewish people, or people of any race or gender or orientation, and you thought, ‘I make sense.’ I want to talk to you if you are thinking of anyone being less than what they were when you were out to get you because of their religion or the color of their skin, or their gender,” said he.
“I don’t know the road that brought you here, but I’ve seen enough people throw away their futures for hateful beliefs, so I want to talk to you before you find your regrets at the end of that path.”
The “Terminator” star discussed growing up surrounded by the men who lost World War II. He described how “their bodies were full of injuries and shrapnel”. . . and that “their hearts and minds were so full of guilt.” He said he saw the men drinking to ease their pain and how they felt like losers who not only lost the war, but fell because of a “horrific, loser ideology”.
At one point in Schwarzenegger’s address, the infamous photo of Charlottesville, Va., protesters Teddy Von Nukem and Peter Cvjetanovic was shown. The men were two of the most prominent faces of the far-right rally of 2017. Earlier this year, on the day he was due in court on a drug trafficking charge, Von Nukem died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound at his home in Missouri.
“Throughout history, hatred has always been the easy path, the path of least resistance. . . It’s easier to find a scapegoat for a problem than to try to make things better ourselves…,” Schwarzenegger said. “You will not succeed at the end of that road… a movement based on disease has never succeeded.”
“I understand how people can fall into the trap of prejudice and hate. Whether you’ve grown up surrounded by hate or you’ve managed to fight some of the Big Tech algorithms that push you to extremes.”
“When you spend your life looking for a scapegoat, you take away your own responsibility, you take away your own power, you steal your own strength.”
According to the Anti-Defamation League, in 2021 there was a 34% increase in anti-Defamation incidents than the previous year. That was the highest number on record since the Anti-Defamation League began tracking anti-Semitic incidents in 1979.
Anti-Semitism on Twitter also skyrocketed according to combatantisemitism.org, which said Kanye “Ye” West’s anti-Semitic comments prompted a 136% increase in toxic comments, threats and identity attacks towards Jews on the platform social.
At the end of last year, associated with the West’s tirade against the Jews, a notorious hate group came to the busy 405 overpass in Los Angeles. Demonstrators gave Nazi salutes and displayed a banner that said “Kanye is right because of the Jews.”
In the following weeks, LA residents found fliers at their homes and on their cars, advertising conspiracy theories about Jewish people.
And last month, Jaime Tran, 28, was charged with federal hate crimes after he shot two Jews as they were leaving religious services in Los Angeles. After his arrest, Tran admitted to police that he had been looking for a kosher market on Yelp prior to the attacks and that he knew the men were Jewish because of their “heads.”