Arnold Schwarzenegger has expanded on his remarks calling out Americans who refuse to get the coronavirus vaccines or wear masks, saying the responses he heard "really worried" him.
The actor and former Republican governor of California has spoken out repeatedly this week. His most forceful comments came during an interview with CNN on Wednesday.
"There is a virus here. It kills people. And the only way we prevent it is to get vaccinated, wear masks, do social distancing, washing your hands all the time, and not just to think about, 'Well my freedom is being kind of disturbed here.' No, screw your freedom," he said.
"You have the freedom to wear no mask. But you know something? You're a schmuck for not wearing a mask. Because you are supposed to protect your fellow Americans."
In an article published by The Atlantic today, Schwarzenegger conceded he might have spoken too bluntly. But he didn't back down from "the sentiment", and proceeded to explain himself at more length.
"I'll admit, calling people schmucks and saying, 'Screw your freedom,' was a little much, even if I stand by the sentiment. But there is nothing that I'm more passionate about than keeping America great, and it's the only subject that can make me lose my temper," Schwarzenegger wrote.
"I anticipated being called a Nazi and a Communist. But I've got thick skin stretched over my metal endoskeleton, so I knew I could take it. But some of the responses really worried me.
"Many people told me that the Constitution gives them rights, but not responsibilities. They feel no duty to protect their fellow citizens.
"That's when I realised we all need a civics lesson."
Schwarzenegger argued that America did not become great through "selfishness and dereliction of duty", saying its citizens "need to think beyond our selfish interests".
"I often think about how many Americans sacrificed to make this country great," he said.
"Every generation has heroes who have put the country ahead of themselves. From the men who left their families at home to fight for independence to the teenagers who shipped over to Europe and the Pacific to fight fascism, our history is defined by sacrifice. From the fields of Gettysburg to the beaches of Normandy, our country's greatness is steeped in duty.
"Our country became great because every generation before us knew that liberty and duty go hand-in-hand. I am worried that many of my fellow Americans have now lost sight of that.
"When I look at the response to this pandemic, I really worry about the future of our country. We have lost more than 600,000 Americans to covid. Are we really this selfish and angry? Are we this partisan?
"When we wear a mask or get a vaccine, we are serving our country and our fellow citizens."
Schwarzenegger said he "can't stand it" when people call public health measures "fascism".
"Just a few generations ago, this country stood up to real fascism. And we didn't win just because of our love of freedom. We won because Americans came together and did their duty," he argued.
"Americans accepted the rationing of food and gasoline to win that war. Mothers and fathers sent their kids off knowing it could be the last time they saw them. Women worked tirelessly in factories to make the weapons our troops needed.
"Americans lived through four years of brutal sacrifice, and we're going to throw fits about putting a mask over our mouth and nose?
"Some people want to create an alternative America, where we have no responsibility to one another. That America has never existed.
"We need to come together like the generations of Americans who came before us, and to give just a tiny fraction of what they gave."
He finished the piece by alluding to John F. Kennedy's most famous quote.
"What will you do for your country?" Schwarzenegger asked.
About 60 per cent of Americans over the age of 12 have been fully vaccinated, and 70 per cent have received at least one dose.
But the country's hospitals, particularly in the less vaccinated southern states, are struggling to cope with a flood of unvaccinated patients.
The US is now averaging 126,000 new infections per day, up from 25,000 a month ago, due to the more infectious Delta variant.