Once upon a timeâ€”to start a tale in an original wayâ€”there was a lazy, lovable, love-sick Negro who wasn’t a Negro at all, but who went by the name of Andrew H. Brown, and was known to millions of radio fans throughout the land as Andy.
President of more “corporations” than General Johnson could fulminate against in a two-hour speech, with a heart as big as his purse was small and a very tired pair of feet that were always hopping from one pool of hot water into another, Andy was probably one of the most beloved characters created by King Microphone.
Andy, less widely known as Charles P. Correll, is jeopardizing popularity with those radio fans who lifted him to a pinnacle yet to be equalled by any other radio star.
Andy’s love affairs with Madame Queen and other dusky Harlem denizens amused Jews and Christians alike, white man and black. His penchant for getting himself into legal difficulties that sprang from a hopelessly idealistic state of mind on the subject of Cupid were amusing.
One moment, after reading a missive from his flame of the day, he was moaning “ah, me” into the microphone. Bliss in every syllable. The next, a breach-of-promise summons in his hand, it was “ah’s regusted.”
Andy’s love affairs, evidently, have come to an end. But Andy, or rather Charles P. Correll, continues to be rather gauche when it comes to avoiding trouble. Those feet of his, it seems, just can’t keep out of it.
This time it’s not a make-believe love affair that they’ve carried him into. It’s a real, all-too-real hate affair.
It’s the hate affair between the civilized world and the Nazis. Between the world’s liberals on the one hand and the Hitlerites on the other. Between scholars, scientists, writers, white men, black men, Christians and Jews on the one side and murdering, thieving, pillaging scoundrels on the other side.
Andy stepped into the world’s biggest hate affair by letting his fool feet, in a moment when his guardian angel Amosâ€”or his shrewd press agent, for that matterâ€”was fast asleep at the switch, lead him aboard the North German Lloyd liner Bremen.
When Andy was mumbling his dreams of power and glory into the microphone he was the subject of perhaps one of the severest censorships any radio star has ever had clamped on him. Every word he was permitted to say was inspected to see if it might possibly contain some dynamite in it. Neither he nor Amos was permitted to say anything that might in the slightest manner be construed as offensive to anybody. Religion was taboo. Jokes at the expense of any section of the population were taboo. There were more taboos than even a Hitler could think up to impose on a “non-Aryan.”
If, in one of the Amos ‘n’ Andy scenes, the script called for Andy to take a trip by boat, the boat, we’ll wager, would have flown the American flag. If the script called for a Nazi steamer, the censors would have stricken it out. In their commercial wisdom, the toothpaste makers would have known that a storm of protest would deluge them from all over the country.
His guardian angel being asleep, Andy wandered aboard the Bremen for a trip to Europe. When Andy was careless in disturbing his affections, he got tangled up with the law. This time his carelessness will not take him into court. It will, however, get him a resounding thwack in the eye from public opinion. And it will be a thwack that Andy will have difficulty recovering from.
For Jews throughout the land, as well as countless millions of others who have registered their abhorrence of the Nazi atrocities against civilization by boycotting everything of a Nazi derivation, may take a notion to remember the trip aboard the Bremen when next Andy moans “Ah, me” into the mike. And, remembering that a man they loved turned them down in a pinch, who will blame them if they answer in Andy’s own words: “Ah’s regusted.”
All of which reminds us that public characters who are more or less dependent upon public opinion for their livelihood ought never to undertake any act on their own initiative. They should always consult their public relations counsel first. If there are no other press agents around who can tell them that it’s distinctly bad taste to sail on a boycotted liner, there’s always Carl Byoir or Ivy Lee, who for the paltry sum of $25,000 a year can probably be induced to take some time off from advising Hitler and counsel simple human beings as to how to live so that they will not tread on other people’s toes.