NOT EXACTLY WHAT ARIZONA NEEDS RIGHT NOW…. Recent events in Arizona have cast the state in an ugly light — racial tensions, anti-immigrant animus, and ethnicity-based demagoguery have created a toxic political environment. This won’t help.

Artists who painted a mural at an elementary school in Prescott depicting four students, with the most prominent being a Hispanic boy, were asked to lighten the faces amid taunts and tensions.

R.E. Wall, the artist who heads the Prescott Downtown Mural Project, told a local newspaper passersby regularly shouted racially charged comments at his group while they were creating the mural at the Miller Valley Elementary School.

“You’re desecrating our school,” “Get the ni—- off the wall,” “Get the sp– off the wall,” were common, Wall said. “The pressure stayed up consistently,” Wall said. “We had two months of cars shouting at us.”

The school principal reportedly asked the artists to “remove some shadowing that made the faces darker than they are.” Wall said he and his artists were instructed to make the children appear more “radiant and happy.”

The uproar seems to be largely the result of complains from a city councilman, Steve Bair, who insisted that the mural “looks like graffiti in L.A.”

“I am not a racist individual,” Blair said on a recent radio show, “but I will tell you depicting a black guy in the middle of that mural, based upon who’s President of the United States today and based upon the history of this community, when I grew up we had four black families — who I have been very good friends with for years — to depict the biggest picture on that building as a black person, I would have to ask the question, ‘Why?’”

A few things. First, the “black guy in the middle of that mural” is based on a student of Mexican descent. (In fact, all of the children featured in the mural were drawn from photographs of children enrolled at the school.)

Second, any sentence that begins, “I am not a racist individual, but…” is not going to end well.

Third, one of these days, white racists will learn how ridiculous they sound when they talk about having black “friends.”

Blair added that he “can’t stand” the word “diversity,” and argued that “the focus doesn’t need to be on the minority all the time.”

But don’t worry, Blair is “not a racist individual.”

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.