City Journal brings the sad news of the death of Fred Siegel. When my partners and I were starting up the New York Sun, Fred was so encouraging that he sent us one of his sons, Harry, as a potential hire. Harry turned out to be a valuable contributor, and Fred a regular inspiration and source of encouragement.
Fred lived in Brooklyn and had been there long enough to appreciate the city's downs and ups, and the causes of both. Going through emails, I see a link to a 2011 piece by Michael Powell of the New York Times:
Fred Siegel, a historian at the conservative-leaning Manhattan Institute, has written of the "New Tammany Hall," which he describes as the incestuous alliance between public officials and labor.
"Public unions have had no natural adversary; they give politicians political support and get good contracts back," Mr. Siegel said. "It's uniquely dysfunctional."
For all of Siegel's bona fides as an urbanist, he maintained a serious interest in and engagement with foreign policy, especially Israel. In a 2005 piece for the Sun with Sol Stern, he reported from Columbia University on what he called "a hate-fest masquerading as academic discourse," and asked, "how did a great institution of higher learning allow itself to be transformed into a platform for vicious political propaganda and hate speech directed against one country, Israel?" It was a column that foreshadowed the anti-Israel and antisemitic surge on college campuses in the decades that have followed.
In a 2020 column, I quoted Siegel as telling the Wall Street Journal that his presidential vote for Trump would be largely on national security grounds: "Crushing ISIS, pulling us out of the Iran nuclear deal, moving our embassy to Jerusalem, and making fools of those people who insist that the Palestinian issue is at the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict." He also explained it as a way of defending middle class values against elite "woke-ism."
In 2013, Fred and I participated together in a panel about President Kennedy.
I'll miss him, and I feel lucky to have known him.