Badri Raina’s marvelous Professor Higgins poem (But the ‘Equality idea’ ain’t dead)

Prof. Higgins haranguing Eliza in My Fair Lady

Another marvelous poem by Badri Raina in Delhi, published in ZNet, referencing Prof. Henry Higgins’ famous line in the musical My Fair Lady based on George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion. I will differ from Badri ji only to humbly offer that far from being dead, the ‘Equality idea’ is alive and kicking. It is in fact the growing prevalence of this idea that so threatens the beneficiaries of oppressive systems that they feel compelled to churn up fascism and bigotry, that get amplified in the news and social media. Am I wrong? 

Remembering Professor Higgins

We raised eyebrows when Higgins asked
“why can’t a woman be more like a man?”
Look how whole nations now build upon
That thought in the Professor’s brain.

In the land of the free and home of the brave—
The “oldest democracy” we are told—
Why can’t the black be more like the white
Is the lament of the beautiful and the bold.

And in the “largest democracy”
A parallel ask is rampant now;
Why can’t a Muslim be more like a Hindu,
And propitiate his gods and the holy cow?

In the monarchies of the Middle East
We hear the insistent call
That it is not enough that we Muslims be
But that we better be Wahabi Sunnis all.

Men in charge of governments
Desire, in the interests of unity,
That citizens be of one single mind,
And repudiate “God’s own variety.”

Yet the Good Book says with clarity
That those that have shall get;
And all other Good Books say the same
In sacred alphabet.

So now that God made us all unlike,
He must have meant some to make the rules,
And ordained the White, the Brahmin,
And the Wahabi to whiplash the lowly fools

Whom God in his wisdom chose not to make
White, Brahmin, Wahabi, or rich,
But, like women of any clime,
Slaves to the dominant itch.

It is the task of the bramble and thorn
To set off and serve the regal rose;
The feet may well be necessary,
But a foot cannot be a nose.

Let diversity then not be made
An argument for democracy;
No democracy may equalize
The Elect and the Hoi Polloi.

The Equality idea anyway
Died with Robespierre;
It is now only a politic brand
That “successful” democracies cannily wear.


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