via Lis Power / Twitter

There are too many differences between Barack Obama and Donald Trump to list them all. But a recent Trump controversy exemplifies how the two differ in their basic humanity.

On Tuesday, a chilling report in The New York Times showed just how far Trump is willing to go to secure the U.S.-Mexico border.

In a March meeting, Trump was fuming about undocumented immigrants crossing the border so he proposed some ideas that are so extreme they seemed to come from the Middle Ages.


Privately, the president had often talked about fortifying a border wall with a water-filled trench, stocked with snakes or alligators, prompting aides to seek a cost estimate. He wanted the wall electrified, with spikes on top that could pierce human flesh. After publicly suggesting that soldiers shoot migrants if they threw rocks, the president backed off when his staff told him that was illegal. But later in a meeting, aides recalled, he suggested that they shoot migrants in the legs to slow them down. That's not allowed either, they told him.

The idea that Trump has no problem shooting, impaling, and feeding migrants to man-eating reptiles shows a complete lack of respect for human dignity.

It's no wonder his administration thought that separating families at the border was somehow acceptable.

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Trump denied the accusations on Twitter.

In light of the controversy, footage has emerged from 2011 when President Obama made a speech at the border in El Paso, Texas in which he joked about Republicans wanting a moat filled with alligators at the border.

During his speech, Obama boasted about the upgrades he had made in border security, including more agents, completion of some fencing, and increased cargo screenings. But he said that no matter what he does, Republicans will still want more.

"We have gone above and beyond what was requested by the very Republicans who said they supported broader reform as long as we got serious about enforcement," Obama said.

"But even though we've answered these concerns, I gotta say I suspect there are still going to be some who are trying to move the goal posts on us one more time," he continued.

"Maybe they'll need a moat," Obama said jokingly to laughter from the crowd. "Maybe they'll want alligators in the moat."

Obama's claim that the GOP wants alligators and a moat at the border was a joke that mocked the GOP's obsession with undocumented immigrants.

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This obsession with security seems even more questionable when one looks at the actual facts about undocumented immigrants in the United States. According to Pew Research, the number of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. has been on the decline since 2007 — four years before Obama's speech.

Further, the fear of undocumented immigrants committing crimes is largely unfounded, because study after study shows they commit fewer crimes than native-born Americans.

Unfortunately, anyone who wants alligators at the border probably hasn't much use for facts.

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

When schools closed early in the spring, the entire country was thrown for a loop. Parents had to figure out what to do with their kids. Teachers had to figure out how to teach students at home. Kids had to figure out how to navigate a totally new routine that was being created and altered in real time.

For many families, it was a big honking mess—one that many really don't want to repeat in the fall.

But at the same time, the U.S. hasn't gotten a handle on the coronavirus pandemic. As states have begun reopening—several of them too early, according to public health officials—COVID-19 cases have risen to the point where we now have more cases per day than we did during the height of the outbreak in the spring. And yet President Trump is making a huge push to get schools to reopen fully in the fall, even threatening to possibly remove funding if they don't.

It's worth pointing out that Denmark and Norway had 10 and 11 new cases yesterday. Sweden and Germany had around 300 each. The U.S. had 55,000. (And no, that's not because we're testing thousands of times more people than those countries are.)

The president of the country's largest teacher's union had something to say about Trump's push to reopen schools. Lily Eskelsen Garcia says that schools do need to reopen, but they need to be able to reopen safely—with measures that will help keep both students and teachers from spreading the virus and making the pandemic worse. (Trump has also criticized the CDCs "very tough & expensive guidelines" for reopening schools.)

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