Redvers Buller and nonbinary people

Who was General Sir Redvers Buller, VC, GCB, GCMG, and what relevance has he to nonbinary people? He is relevant to nonbinary people, I assure you.

Buller was a man of great physical courage. At the Battle of Hlobane in the Anglo-Zulu war, he rescued three other mounted infantry, a captain, a lieutenant and a trooper, carrying them to safety on his horse, one at a time, and winning the VC.

In command in the second Boer war, he lost the battles of Colenso, Magersfontein and Stormberg in one week, gaining the nickname “Reverse Buller” among his troops. Frederick Roberts took command, but as second in command Buller won the Battle of the Tugela Heights. Wikipedia tells us he was scapegoated for Boer guerrilla tactics, and sacked in October 1901. About 50,000 subscribers in and around Exeter paid for an equestrian statue of him, which the city council now considers removing.

I don’t think the Empire is something for British people to be proud of. It was economic exploitation of areas whose economies would have grown better outside it. Cotton grown in India was taken to Lancashire to be made into cloth, then sent back to India, rather than being processed locally. The statue should not be in a city centre. I had forgotten Redvers Buller, having read about him in “Farewell the Trumpets” by Jan Morris, credited as “James”. That’s the most definite reference to a trans or nonbinary person in this post. No, there is no clear evidence that Redvers was nonbinary.

That did not deter the Daily Mail, whose headline about the statue was, “Council is slammed for ‘ridiculous and historical wokery’ over plans to remove a statue of a British war hero – with official report claiming it ‘impacts anybody who does not define themselves in binary gender terms’.”

The Mail opposes the statue of a “war hero” being moved. Of course. That is disrespecting the Great British Empire, but The Mail also hates any mention of nonbinary people. It says, “An equality impact assessment carried out as part of the review also concluded the statue would impact anybody who ‘does not define themselves in binary gender terms’.”

The council’s papers are here. The Equality Impact Assessment does not mention nonbinary people, but rightly comments that moving the statue would have a positive impact on BAME people and immigrants. The report to the council says the statue “personif[ies] racism and the glorification of a colonial past”.

Is its prominence still relevant to the people of Exeter today? No. The Boer War was a nasty, inglorious conflict.

Possibly the quote was removed from the papers after the Mail reported. Its full quote, given in the article, is, “The General Buller statue represents the patriarchal structures of empire and colonialism which impact negatively on women and anyone who does not define themselves in binary gender terms. The consultation will need to ensure that the views of women, transgender and non-binary people are captured and given due weight”.

Mere use of the word “patriarchal” is enough to upset the Mail. However the quote indicates that the statue is not more relevant to trans and nonbinary people than to cis women. Nonbinary people are mentioned because, to be inclusive, any mention of patriarchy’s effect on women has to refer to trans and nonbinary people too. That is the only relevance of the report to nonbinary people. Any equality impact assessment, and lots of council reports, would refer to “women and nonbinary people”.

I agree. Patriarchy impacts on cis women and trans people. It also impacts on a lot of men. The Mail did not make any argument against this, merely quoting. “Wokery” was the word of conservative historian Andrew Roberts, who commented “In the year 1900 every man was a sexist”.

Buller’s biographer said, “This man was always a great supporter of and campaigner for the many native communities he came across.” That would appear contradicted by the battle of Kambula.

Redvers Buller: not apparently nonbinary.

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