To get to an Arizona bigot’s heart…

hit him in the wallet, real hard:

Arizona established itself over the past year as the most aggressive state in cracking down on illegal immigrants, gaining so much momentum with its efforts that several other states vowed to follow suit. But now the harsh realities of economics appear to have intruded, and Arizona may be looking to shed the image of hard-line anti-immigration pioneer.

In an abrupt change of course, Arizona lawmakers rejected new anti-immigration measures on Thursday, in what was widely seen as capitulation to pressure from business executives and an admission that the state’s tough stance had resulted in a chilling of the normally robust tourism and convention industry.

I’m not quoting from the NYT because I think U.S. immigration laws are perfect. Or because I like NAFTA or similar corporate-backed trade agreements that have proved to be disastrous for workers in this country.

However, it’s been obvious since last summer that the war on immigrants waged by Gov. Jan “Cactus Face” Brewer was a ploy conceived by her spin doctors, who knew the surest way to win a Republican victory is to appeal to voters’ baser instincts. Xenophobia beats reason every time in an election year, especially in a red state.

But you can’t have it both ways. Either you’re a state that thrives on rugged, Latino-hating individualism, or you’re a state that recognizes that a reputation for bigotry will kill your much-needed tourism business.

It’s amazing how quickly Republicans tone down the rhetoric when they see the connection between tolerance and cash register tally sheets.

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