Midge Decter, a fearless advocate of freedom and a fierce opponent of totalitarianism, died yesterday. She was 94 (July 25, 1927 – May 9, 2022).
She loved America. She took religion seriously, and advocated tirelessly for its place in the public square.
She was a woman of letters, attending the University of Minnesota in her native State, and the Jewish Theological Seminary and New York University in her adopted Manhattan, but she never received a degree from any of them.
She worked and edited at Basic Books, Legacy Books, Commentary, Harper’s Magazine (serving as executive editor of Harper’s in the age of Willie Morris), Midstream, and Saturday Review; her by-line appeared in frequently in The American Spectator, The Atlantic, Commentary, First Things, National Review, The New Republic, and The Weekly Standard.
She served as President and as a trustee of The Philadelphia Society; she was a trustee or director of each of the Center for Security Policy, the Clare Booth Luce Fund, and The Heritage Foundation. With Don Rumsfeld she founded the Committee on the Present Danger and, when the Soviet Union collapsed, she took the unusual and laudable step of declaring victory and dissolving her organization (rather than finding a way to repurpose it and give perpetual life, as all too many groups do, as a fund-raising bureaucracy).
The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation bestowed its Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom upon her.
President George W. Bush bestowed the National Humanities Medal upon her in a class that included Joan Ganz Cooney, the founder of the Children’s Television Workshop and its flagship production, “Sesame Street”, and Joseph Epstein, the Chicago based critic, writer, and raconteur.
She is survived by her husband Norman Podhoretz, and her children Rachel Decter (who is married to Eliott Abrams), Ruthie Blum, and John Podhoretz.
Yuval Levin remembered her this evening in a short essay posted on National Review Online; and Abe Greenwald, the Executive Editor of Commentary, paid a brief tribute to her this evening in Commentary’s website, listing and linking but a few of the power pieces she wrote for that magazine.
May the memory of Midge Decter forever be as a blessing.