What reptiles can teach us about trying times

Mother Nature may be showing us how to survive the Donald Trump era.

Shallotte River Swamp Park, a private attraction in southeastern North Carolina, recently froze for the first time since it opened in February 2015. Alligators in the preserve immediately went into brumation (a form of suspended animation), and instinctively poked their snouts out of the freezing water so they could continue breathing until the surface thawed.

At about the same time, iguanas in Florida started dropping from the trees like Popsicles. Like alligators, iguanas are cold-blooded, and when the weather dipped to an un-Florida-like 40 degrees and below they went into shock, their bodies stiffening. When it warmed, they reanimated and went about their iguana business.

I’ve seen that frozen iguana look in too many people’s eyes lately, as they read the latest Trump shock statement.

His recent spew about not accepting allegedly underachieving immigrants from Haiti and countries in Africa was not only a new low, but factually inaccurate. According to the Census Bureau, foreign-born Africans immigrating to the United States have a higher level of educational achievement than other immigrants, with 41 percent holding a bachelor’s degree or higher in 2008-12.

The fact is, most of our ancestors came from poor nations. Admitting immigrants on a merit basis is a legitimate argument, but it isn’t Trump’s. If he didn’t want to list African nations as preferred targets for immigration, he could have used South Korea, China or another nation with highly qualified workers as examples. It’s no accident he chose Norway, with its dog-whistle, whiter-than-white population. The fact that Norwegians would never choose to come here because of our inferior social safety net is something beyond Trump’s understanding.

From the sexual misconduct claims mounting against him to his vile remarks about nations of people of color, Trump continues to debase the presidency virtually on a daily basis.

Can we survive this constant assault on basic American values from a bigoted, ignorant and reckless president? (And it’s only going to get worse as special counsel Robert Mueller tightens the noose.)

Like alligators in brumation and iguanas frozen in place, keep your head up and continue breathing. It will all be over soon — one way or the other.

Playwright Mike Vogel blogs at newyorkgritty.net.