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EDUCATOR AND JOURNALIST\ SYNDICATED COLUMNIST FOR N.Y. POST DIES AT 89

EDUCATOR AND JOURNALIST\ SYNDICATED COLUMNIST FOR N.Y. POST DIES AT 89

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Max Lerner, an educator, journalist and student of American civilization who was for many years a syndicated columnist for The New York Post, died Friday at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan. He was 89 and had homes in Manhattan and Southampton, N.Y.

He died of a stroke, said his son Stephen, of Washington.Lerner was one of the more conspicuous of the post-World War II non-fiction writers, a humanist whose unabashed liberal conscience led him to the political barricades for more than three decades. Many of his concerns now seem prescient.

In 1959, for example, in a speech at Douglass College in New Brunswick, N.J., Lerner expressed concern over what he saw as growing mediocrity among American students.

Lerner was also a longtime advocate of the right of Jews in the Soviet Union and elsewhere in Eastern Europe to immigrate to Israel.

With all the turmoil of the mid- and late 20th century, Lerner insisted that he preferred the present ``awful but magnificent' era to any other in history.

But in a book he wrote in 1957, ``America as a Civilization: Life and Thought in the United States Today,' he talked of his age as a time in which there was a ``fear of ideas and the tenacious cult of property.'

His espousal of ideas regarded as liberal in the 1950s did not sit well with everyone.

In the 1950s and early 1960s, he was regarded as a controversial speaker, and those who invited him to lecture were criticized by patriotic groups who regarded Lerner as rather subversive.

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