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March 7, 2023 7:04 am

Arnold Schwarzenegger on Antisemitism: ‘It’s Easier to Hate Than It is to Learn’


avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Former governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger stands on the podium in the “Bonn-Zone” during the World Climate Conference in Bonn, Germany, 12 November 2017. Photo: Henning Kaiser/dpa.

Actor and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger spoke about hatred and antisemitism on Monday while visiting New Jersey’s Stockton University, which presented him with a honorary Doctor of Public Service degree.

“It is easier to hate than it is to learn. Easier isn’t better,” the former body builder, 75, said in his speech to more than 600 students, faculty, staff and invited guests, including Holocaust survivors and their families, who gathered to hear him speak at the university.

The Terminator star was born in Austria two years after the end of World War II to a father who was a member of the Nazi party. He toured the Auschwitz concentration camp in Germany in September 2022 and also talked at Stockton University about the power of hate and ways to prevent the Holocaust from ever happening again. 

“After a visit to Auschwitz, you will never question why ‘never again’ is a valid cry of the people who fight to prevent another Holocaust,” he said. “Today, I don’t want to preach to the choir. I want to talk to the people out there who may have stumbled on their path. … I want to talk to you if you found yourself thinking anyone is inferior or out to get them because of their religion or color of skin.”

He added, “I’ve seen people throw away their future because of hateful beliefs,” before calling his father, who was a former Nazi soldier, “a broken man who had to drink to numb the pain.”

He then addressed people who might choose to live a life based on hatred and said to them, “If you find yourself at a crossroads wondering if the path of hate may make sense to you for one reason or another, I want you to know where that path ends. You will not find success on that road. You will not find fulfillment or happiness.” He encouraged them to instead “live a life of strength.”

“Hate makes you feel empowered for a while but it eventually consumes [you], it’s the path of the weak,” he explained. “That’s why there has never ever been a successful movement based on hate. Never. The Nazis — losers. The Confederacy — losers. The apartheid movement — losers. And the list goes on and on. No matter how far you’ve gone, you still have the chance to choose a life of strength. But you have to give up the war against anyone you hate. Stop that war. Whether you hate them because of the color of their skin, religion, gender, sexual orientation — it doesn’t really matter. Give up that war. What you have to do is you have to fight the war against yourself.”

He further urged the audience to change their hateful outlook and said, “It’s not easy to look in the mirror and change your own life. Discomfort is how we grow strong. You have to struggle to build strength.”

Schwarzenegger began his visit to Stockton University on Monday by touring the Sara & Sam Schoffer Holocaust Resource Center on campus, where he met local Holocaust survivors and their families. Ahead of  his appearance at the school, Stockton University President Dr. Harvey Kesselman said about the former California governor: “He is an individual who has excelled in multiple fields and has worked to terminate hate in America and abroad. He is deserving of the recognition that Stockton is bestowing upon him for his incredible public service.”

Also on Monday, Schwarzenegger released a 12-minute video message about the rise in antisemitism and hatred.

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