Editor’s note: Michael Ackley’s columns may include satire and parody based on current events, and thus mix fact with fiction. He assumes informed readers will be able to tell which is which.

As “The Help” – book and feature film – brings back the terrors and triumphs of the civil
rights movement, we can congratulate ourselves on how far we have come in the half century since the assassination of Medgar Evers, the church bombing that killed four little girls, the murders of civil rights crusaders Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman, the images of cops setting dogs on peaceful demonstrators.

How far we’ve come. At least, I thought so, until I saw a racist effigy of Barack Obama along a rural road here in California’s Mother Lode. The jet-black statue with big ears stood behind a “Where’s the birth certificate?” sign; its hands cradled a crescent of watermelon.

How far have we come, indeed?

In 2008 I supported an African-American for president of the United States. He was highly qualified to teach about the Constitution; he was a great speaker; he promised real hope and change. Of course, as I fall on the conservative end of the political spectrum, that candidate’s name was Alan Keyes, not Barack Obama.

No racism? I remember how Keyes was marginalized by the moderators of the Republican candidates’ debates, when he clearly was the best qualified man on the dais. The questions went to the white guys time after time, until Keyes interrupted to remind the “unbiased” interlocutor that he had something to say about the issues.

It was clear that the media establishment wanted Republicans to pick a safe, uninspiring white man as their candidate. As the primary elections progressed, Keyes had to drop out of the running. Republicans were stuck with John McCain, while the Democratic Party nominated Obama.

Americans thought it would be nice to show the world the U.S. wasn’t racist, so a majority exercised electoral affirmative action and put an incompetent in the White House.

Now, with the country and Obama reeling as a result of the president’s disastrous policies, the left is unleashing charges of racism, particularly against the tea party. One wonders why an Obama opponent would lend the left wing some credibility by erecting the effigy mentioned above.

Perhaps the thing was put up by a desperate left-winger in hopes of lending the Obama-ites racial ammunition. It is just too depressing to contemplate that it is the work of a comfortable contemporary racist.

My hometown: Oakland, Calif., just hosted a two-day International Cannabis and Hemp Expo. (The hemp is in there because the mind-bending fraternity would have you believe they’re interested in the marijuana plant’s textile uses as well as its hallucinogenic properties.)

Anyway, the expo covered five blocks in downtown Oakland, and folks with medicinal marijuana prescriptions were invited to light joints, suck on hookahs and munch cannabis comestibles – all with municipal approval.

One attendee told the San Francisco Chronicle, “For a long time we had to hide behind darkness, buying this stuff in alleys, where you’re as afraid of the guy selling to you as you are of the cops. So this is great. It feels good to let everyone see that it’s not a bunch of riffraff. Everybody’s at peace, just living their day.”

The Chron also reported that “visitors patiently and quietly waited in lines more than a block long to receive a temporary doctor’s recommendation that allowed them to smoke on site.”

A temporary doctor’s recommendation? Where are the participating physicians’ ethics? Now these poor patients will have to go to a doctor to get a regular medical marijuana prescription. After the street festival is over, how will they cope with the hangnails, tennis elbow, paper cuts and other discomforts that aren’t helped by any other medication? It’s just too cruel.

And you wondered why California always voted Democratic.

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