Jump to content

Midge Decter

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Midge Decter
Midge Rosenthal

(1927-07-25)July 25, 1927
DiedMay 9, 2022(2022-05-09) (aged 94)
New York City, U.S.
Occupation(s)Journalist, author, writer
(m. 1948; div. 1954)
(m. 1956)
Children4; including Rachel Abrams, Ruthie Blum and John Podhoretz

Midge Decter (née Rosenthal; July 25, 1927 – May 9, 2022) was an American journalist and author.[1][2][3][4][5] Originally a liberal, she was one of the pioneers of the neoconservative movement in the 1970s and 1980s.[6] She was a critic of feminism and the women's liberation movement.[6]

Early life[edit]

Decter was born in Saint Paul, Minnesota, on July 25, 1927.[7][8][6] She was the youngest of three daughters of Rose (née Calmenson) and Harry Rosenthal, a sporting goods merchant.[9][10] Her family was middle-class and Jewish.[11][6] She attended the University of Minnesota for one year, the Jewish Theological Seminary of America from 1946 to 1948, and New York University, but did not graduate from any of them.[8][12] She initially identified as a liberal on the political spectrum.[8][13]


Decter was assistant editor at Midstream, before working as secretary to the then-editor of Commentary, Robert Warshow.[1] Later she was the executive editor of Harper's Magazine under Willie Morris.[1] She then began working in publishing as an editor at Basic Books and Legacy Books.[1] Her writing has been published in Commentary, First Things, The Atlantic, National Review, The New Republic, The Weekly Standard, and The American Spectator.[1][2][14]

Together with Donald Rumsfeld, Decter was the co-chair of the Committee for the Free World, an anti-communist organization.[6] She was one of the original champions of the neoconservative movement with her spouse, Norman Podhoretz.[2] She was also a founder of the Independent Women's Forum, and was founding treasurer for the Northcote Parkinson Fund, founded and chaired by John Train. She was a member of the board of trustees for The Heritage Foundation.[3] She was also a board member of the Center for Security Policy and the Clare Boothe Luce Fund.[2] A member of the Philadelphia Society, she was, for a time, its president.[15]

Decter was arguably the leading antifeminist in the United States prior to Phyllis Schlafly's rise to prominence.[6] She was a critic of the women's liberation movement.[6] She defended "traditional" gender roles and "family values."[6] She was a critic of the gay rights movement.[6]

Following a tongue-in-cheek remark by Russell Kirk, the Society's founder, about the prevalence of Jewish intellectuals in the neoconservative movement, Decter labelled Kirk an anti-Semite.[16] She was also a senior fellow at the Institute of Religion and Public Life.[1] She was one of the signatories to Statement of Principles for the Project for the New American Century.[17] Decter served on the national advisory board of Accuracy in Media.[18]

In 2008, Midge Decter received the Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom from the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation.[19]

Personal life[edit]

Decter married her first husband, Moshe Decter, in 1948.[13] Together, they had two children: Naomi and Rachel, who predeceased Decter in 2013.[8][12] They divorced in 1954.[8] Two years later, she married Norman Podhoretz, a neoconservative, who went on to become editor of Commentary magazine.[8][6] They remained married until her death. Together, they had two children: Ruthie Blum and John Podhoretz.[8][12]

Decter lived most of her adult life in Manhattan.[6] She died on May 9, 2022, at her home in Manhattan. She was 94 years old.[8][12]


External videos
video icon Booknotes interview with Decter on An Old Wife's Tale, October 7, 2001, C-SPAN
video icon Presentation by Decter on Always Right, November 1, 2002, C-SPAN
video icon Presentation by Decter on Rumsfeld, October 14, 2003, C-SPAN
video icon Washington Journal interview with Decter on Rumsfeld, April 23, 2004, C-SPAN
  • Losing the First Battle, Winning the War[20]
  • The Liberated Woman and Other Americans (1970)[21]
  • The New Chastity and Other Arguments Against Women's Liberation (1972) ISBN 978-0-698-10450-1
  • Liberal Parents, Radical Children (1975) ISBN 978-0-698-10675-8
  • An Old Wife's Tale: My Seven Decades in Love and War (2001) ISBN 978-0-06-039428-8
  • Always Right: Selected Writings of Midge Decter (2002) ISBN 978-0-89195-108-7
  • Rumsfeld : A Personal Portrait (2003) ISBN 978-0-06-056091-1


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Midge Decter". The Philadelphia Society. Retrieved April 12, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d "Midge Decter". HarperCollins US. Retrieved April 12, 2018.
  3. ^ a b Heritage Foundation Board of Trustees Archived March 4, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Gallagher, Dorothy (September 16, 2001). "No U-Turns". The New York Times. Retrieved April 12, 2018.
  5. ^ "Converts Podhoretz & Decter Didn't Get a Job from Reagan, but Don't Knock a Blurb". Retrieved April 12, 2018.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Grinberg, Ronnie (2023). ""The First Lady of Neoconservatism": Midge Decter and the Politics of Family Values". Journal of American History. 110 (3): 497–521. doi:10.1093/jahist/jaad265.
  7. ^ Fermaglich, Kirsten (June 23, 2021). "The Encyclopedia of Jewish Women: Midge Decter". Jewish Women's Archive. Retrieved May 11, 2022.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h Martin, Douglas (May 9, 2022). "Midge Decter, an Architect of Neoconservatism, Dies at 94". The New York Times. Retrieved May 10, 2022.
  9. ^ Hyman, Paula; Moore, Deborah Dash; Weisbard, Phyllis Holman; Society, American Jewish Historical (January 1, 1998). Jewish Women in America: A-L. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-91934-0. Retrieved April 12, 2018 – via Google Books.
  10. ^ Current Biography Yearbook. H. W. Wilson Company. April 12, 1982. Retrieved April 12, 2018 – via Internet Archive. Midge Rosenthal Decter.
  11. ^ Swain, Carol (2003). Contemporary voices of white nationalism in America. Cambridge, UK New York: Cambridge University Press. p. 81. ISBN 978-0521016933. Note: this quote is from the authors' introductory essay, not from the interviews.
  12. ^ a b c d Hasson, Judi (May 9, 2022). "Midge Decter, social critic and leader of neoconservative movement, dies at 94". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 10, 2022.
  13. ^ a b Italie, Hillel (May 10, 2022). "Midge Decter, leading neo-conservative, dead at 94". Associated Press {AP}. Retrieved May 10, 2022.
  14. ^ American Spectator webpage Archived November 27, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ "Presidents of The Philadelphia Society". February 23, 2010. Archived from the original on February 23, 2010. Retrieved August 15, 2012.
  16. ^ "Conservative Minder" "The Weekly Standard" Retrieved April 15, 2019
  17. ^ "New American Century Statement of Principles". Archived from the original on February 5, 2005. Retrieved June 6, 2007.
  18. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions". Accuracy in Media. Archived from the original on September 12, 2008. Retrieved June 10, 2012.
  19. ^ "Recipients of the Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom". Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. Archived from the original on August 28, 2012. Retrieved September 4, 2012.
  20. ^ Decter, Midge (2000). Losing the First Battle, Winning the War. Heritage Foundation.
  21. ^ Decter, Midge (1971). The Liberated Woman and Other Americans. Coward, McCann & Geoghegan.

External links[edit]