MICHELE NORRIS, host:
Commentator Andrei Codrescu points out that it is the age of the hybrid. It's not just the cars, he says, it's us, too.
ANDREI CODRESCU: Our bodies used to be all flesh, but now, we are wired to iPods, GPS and the Internet.
The hybrids we drive are the hybrids we are, and it took the whole of the 20th century to mainstream the idea. The United States was always a nation of hybrids. Immigrants mixed here to make a new kind of people, a hybrid people called Americans. The 20th century, the American century, was the rush of euphoria that came from the mixing of so many differences.
This was the reality, but acknowledging it was something else. Not until the 1970s did we allow the possibility that we could accept our roots and also be Americans. The age of the hyphen was upon us. We became African-Americans, Italian-Americans, Mexican-American and so on.
Hybrid reality preceded the hyphen in places like New Orleans where mixed race Creoles created jazz, that most American of all arts.
At the beginning of the 20th century, artists started making hybrids and they never stopped. Artists made obvious what everyone knows, that there isn't a single human being or any living thing that isn't a combination of things.
There are no pure races, there are no pure nations or tribes and there are no clear lines of descent from the gods, who are themselves nothing but hybrids.
The human urge to claim some kind of purity is a curious feature of our hybrid natures, but it's a dead end. Ideas of race purity lead to genocide. Setting apart one's tribe or nation ends inevitably in war. Monopolizing the engine of a moving vehicle to burn only petroleum leads to disaster. All monopolies of vision that claim to be un-hybridized are doomed.
Happily, we've accepted first the hyphen, then the idea that we have more in common than what separates us. And now, we have a hybrid, black and white leader, ready to drive the hybrid Americans of the 21st century to new sources of energy.
Say it out loud, I'm hybrid and I'm proud.
NORRIS: Andrei Codrescu is the author of "The Posthuman Dada Guide: Tzara and Lenin Play Chess."
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