Reverend Al Sharpton must have meant well when he appeared on MSNBC’s “PoliticsNation,” Sunday. He lit into President Donald Trump for his comments about Omarosa Manigault Newman. The President called the former White House staffer and “Apprentice” contestant a “dog.” Sharpton’s rebuke of President Trump, though, didn’t come off as planned.
When you give a crazed, crying lowlife a break, and give her a job at the White House, I guess it just didn’t work out. Good work by General Kelly for quickly firing that dog!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 14, 2018
“I think you might’ve learned the lesson this week. Sometimes the dog bites back with a book deal,” Sharpton said in comments directed at Trump.
He could have ended there, with the dog bite metaphor, and it would have held the rhetorical power he had intended. But he didn’t end there.
“You know what they say about payback,” Sharpton says defiantly. “It’s a real…. Well. I’m sure you know the word I’m thinking of.”
He pauses for a brief moment for dramatic effect before continuing.
“So in the words of my late friend Aretha Franklin, show some R-E-S-P-I-C-T, and the next time you get a black woman and a beagle confused, remember this: I got you,” Sharpton said proudly.
R-E-S-P-I-C-T. The Queen of Soul deserves better than that.
The spelling error is hardly the end of the offense. Sharpton seems to be mixing his musical metaphors. Instead of allowing the allusion to Aretha Franklin to stand alone, he backed it with multiple allusions to James Brown.
“The Payback” is a song by The Godfather of Soul.
Even his ending admonition is attributed to Brown. “I got you,” as Sharpton says after misspelling respect, is James Brown’s personal catch phrase, and one he often said to members of his band when they missed a note or botched a transition. Brown was notorious for his control of his band, and would withhold payment if they didn’t play to his expectations. There are numerous recordings of Brown saying “I got you” to someone on stage, which meant they weren’t getting paid.
Invoking James Brown during the middle of a defense of Omarosa Manigault Newman seems an odd choice, as Brown–especially in the late years of his life–had numerous arrests for domestic abuse.
Sharpton was leaning on a timely cliche, and hoping it might pass as a quiet nod to an incredibly strong woman–a woman who took on James Brown directly.
In 1966, Brown released “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World.” The title is pretty self-explanatory. Here’s an absurd version Brown sings alongside Luciano Pavarotti.
Aretha Franklin, though, answered Brown in 1967. Her song “Do Right Woman,” included this lyric: “Yeah-yeah they say that it’s a man’s world. But you can’t prove that by me. And as long as we’re together baby, how some respect for me.”
Take care, Reverend Sharpton. T-C-B. Sock-it-to-me. Sock-it-to-me. Sock-it-to-me. Sock-it-to-me. Sock-it-to-me. Sock-it-to-me. Sock-it-to-me. Sock-it-to-me.