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.