Wilfred McClay is the formidable historian and public intellectual. On May 17 he is to be recognized with one of this year’s Bradley Prizes — this one — along with Glenn Loury and Chen Guangcheng. Bill wrote me last night: “That is such sad news about Midge. I loved that woman She had more soul in her little finger than any seven other people. I miss her already.” Let us add Bill’s comment to the record.
In my own comment yesterday afternoon upon learning of Midge’s death I forgot to note Midge’s many brilliant contributions to Commentary over the years as well as several of her books deserving of mention. I am thinking of Liberal Parents, Radical Children and An Old Wife’s Tale: My Seven Decades in Love and War.
Bruce Kesler wrote to remind me that we had paid tribute to Midge in the 2005 Power Line post “In praise of Midge Decter.” Referring to a paragraph Midge published in 1968, Kesler credited Midge with inspiring him to leave graduate school and enlist in the Marines to contribute to “our mission in Vietnam.” That led to his organizing the Vietnam Veterans for a Just Peace with John O’Neill in 1971 “to rebut the outrageous charges made by John Kerry and his small band of fake and disaffected Vietnam veterans, trumpeted by an anti-war media, that we were a criminal country with blood-lust crazed troops.”
The Editor’s Picks at Mosaic this morning include this paragraph about Midge:
The essayist, editor, and public intellectual Midge Decter died yesterday at the age of ninety-four. Among the founders and leading lights of what would come to be called neoconservatism, Decter was best known as a trenchant critic of the sexual revolution; she was also a stalwart opponent of Soviet Communism and defender of Israel. Her “Looting and Liberal Racism” rings in many ways as true today as it did when it was published in 1977. While she is less known for her writings on Jewish topics, her very first essay for Commentary, written in 1954, constituted a perceptive critique of Fiddler on the Roof—a decade before it was ever performed. A brief summary of her six decades of work for that magazine, by Abe Greenwald, can be found here, complete with links to a selection of her articles.
Abe Greenwald’s selection of Commentary essays makes a valuable contribution to her memory. As Bill McClay suggests, Midge’s sinuous style gave voice to a fierce spirit.