Kristi Noem v. NCAA

Kristi Noem should have paid attention to some of the history behind her own name rather than listen to the advice of attorneys and lobbyists.  She didn't realize that she had the power to wreck the NCAA if it didn't bow to her wishes.  If she had signed the "women's protection" legislation, she would have stayed on the path to the presidency.  Now that future has almost certainly vanished.

Evidently, Kristi may not be all that well read in history — particularly in Christian history:

In 64 A.D., Rome burned.  Nero, in order to pacify the crowds and deflect blame from himself, picked on a little-known Jewish sect.  He had the many who refused to flee turned into torches to light the avenues.  His act of cruelty changed the entire world! 

Nero turned Christianity from something few had known about into a people everyone wanted to understand.  Throughout the Roman Empire, everyone knew what had happened.  Many hated the Christians as a result of Nero's propaganda.  A great many more were curious to discover who these people were who would brave agonizing death rather than give up their beliefs. 

Human feelings entered into it as well.  Most understood that the Great Fire had been an accident.  Why then did Nero persecute these innocent eccentrics?  Christians began to gather sympathy as well as allies and adherents.

Most of the emperors after Nero had the good sense to leave the Christians alone.  A few, most notably Diocletian, persecuted the Christians because the empire was, once more, having a run of bad luck.  Perhaps Diocletian thought it was the Christian refusal to worship Rome's gods that caused all the empire's troubles.

But the persecutions never worked.  Instead, they garnered increasing sympathy for these good people who were likable and honorable neighbors.  Christianity grew.  Not long after Diocletian's death, Constantine, with his army partly Christian and his mother a Christian, became emperor, and the Empire became Christian.  Nero had changed the world.  No, it was the martyrs who changed the world.

This three-centuries-long story is instructive for today: Kristi's decision was not at all a matter of battles in the court room, as she proclaimed.  She is wrong: in reality, this is a war of ideas.  To succeed Kristi needed her state to be persecuted.  By standing firm, she would have directed a brilliant and withering light onto the power-mad cowards who run the NCAA.  She could have easily created the coalition against men-in-women's-sports that she desires.  Maybe she still can.  But now, all perceive her as weak.

Will she recover politically?  Maybe.  Probably not.

Photo credit: Matt AJ CC-BY-2.0.

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