Trevor Noah blows it by calling French soccer team an “African” team

July 19, 2018 • 12:32 pm

The other day Trevor Noah, host of The Daily Show, celebrated France’s victory in the World Cup by saying that “Africa won the World Cup” and “They have to say it’s the French team, but look at those guys”, referring to the black players on the team.  Although the Daily Show seems to have removed that video segment from YouTube, you can see it on Soccer America by clicking on the screenshot below.”

Now Noah was excoriated for this bit, mostly for saying that the black players on the French team were “Africans.” Normally I’d say it was a tempest in a teapot, but the man is somewhat of a Social Justice Warrior, and since the black players on the French team were almost all French citizens, most born in France (21 of the 23), it’s not really kosher to call them “Africans”.  It’s like saying that black Americans are “Africans”—not even “African-Americans”, a term I really don’t like to use because, if it’s used to denote blacks of African descent, then all of us should be denoted with our distant ancestry. For example, I should be called a Polish/Russian-American, and most of us would be described by putting another nation or continent put before the word “American”.

At any rate, Noah took a lot of flak for this, and the French ambassador wrote him a fairly scathing letter: (click on the tweet if you can’t read it here). I thought it was a pretty eloquent letter, subsuming the ethnic and racial solidarity of the team under the term “French.”

Noah didn’t respond well (see video below), and Grania, who, like Noah, is from South Africa, had a critical response to his explanation, which I’ve put below. Here’s Noah’s response video (if you can’t see it outside the US, try this video):

What surprises me is that the audience, who would presumably be offended by referring to the sons and daughters of immigrants from, say, Mexico being called “Mexicans” , goes along with him(remember what Control-Leftists did to Bari Weiss when she referred to a second-generation person of Japanese descent as an “immigrant). But I think Noah really should have responded with a bit more humility. But this who dust-up was called to my attention to Grania, so I’ll reproduce her take in indentation below (with her permission, of course).

Regarding Trevor Noah, he’s a talented comedian when he’s doing his own original material, but I have no idea who in their right mind thought that he would be a good Daily Show talent.

But he’s being utterly disingenuous in his response.

  1. He’s the one who started the “erasing of identity” with his initial piece. It’s a bit late for him to now be claiming that “they can be both”.
  2. Most people don’t care what he “feels”  when he sees other people with a dark skin playing on a football team. He’s half white-Swiss himself anyway, and therefore has as much in common with everyone on the Swiss team and by extension all white people.
  3. When your joke is in content literally indistinguishable from the remarks of genuine bigots and racists, then maybe it’s time to admit that your joke was a poor one and missed its mark. His lame attempt to wave it away with a pedo joke is pathetic. His excuse is literally this: It’s okay when I do it.

The other thing that everyone is politely not mentioning is that the so-called joke was calculated to appeal to people who think its amusing to make racist jokes so long as it is at the expense of white people. I don’t think people like him are foaming bigots like that looney American Communist guy [JAC: Grania is referring to “Black Hitler,” Gazi Kodzo, whose YouTube channel is here]  by any stretch of the imagination, but they are rapidly devolving into a nasty little circle of smug and toxic jerks.

Instead of promoting sharing the celebration and good feeling of the victory of the French team he plunged thousands of people into a ugly debate about – one that Europe has to contend with all the time from real xenophobic racists – that black immigrants, even after several generations, are not “truly” European.

If Noah and his team had an ounce of humility, they might acknowledge that fact instead of trying to bluster through it and insist that they did not blunder into something they didn’t really understand.

If you disagree with Grania’s views, remember that theres are hers, not mine, but that I agree with them in general.

141 thoughts on “Trevor Noah blows it by calling French soccer team an “African” team

  1. For example, I should be called a Polish/Russian-American …

    Nice try, Mickey, but some of us here recall the straight dope on your ancestry. Let your Irish freak flag fly, boss. 🙂

  2. I dislike the over-usage of hyphened national or ethnic identifiers too. These should be reserved for true immigrants. For example, I suppose I consider myself an American-Canadian, as I was born in the States and then immigrated to Canada as an adult. But I never considered myself a Czech-Italian-American. My grandparents were, but I certainly never was.

    1. You have to be a smug self-righteous hack to host the Daily Show. It is what the show is all about. Basically unmitigated ideological porn for anti-Republicans. I reserve the contempt for it, Rachel Maddow and Colbert that I used to feel for Fox. I actually feel disgust for a format that gathers together an audience that gets off on reinforcing their political biases by laughing at cheap shots and misrepresentations. It is one of the most polarising shows on mainstream media.

  3. Yesiree Trevor – you should have also pointed out that Africa won the NBA Championship and the Super Bowl, Canada won the Stanley Cup and Mexico is dominating MLB.

    1. Actually, the Dominican Republic dominates MLB. Sadly, there are not that many Mexicans in MLB. Remember the days of Fernadomania (Valenzuela). And the Stanley Cup this year might be Russian – I don’t think Ovechkin is ever going to return it. There were players from eight different countries playing for Washington. Single largest contigent was from the United States (8).

        1. Depends on which roster. The one for the playoffs includes the Black Aces and has 32 players on it.

          The Stanley Cup is still the best trophy in all of sport. When the Blackhawks won the Cup (three times since 2010), they would take it for a visit to Wrigley Field. And the Cub players would just look at it closely, reading all the names.

              1. Especially memorable was Patrick Kane’s deke at the blue line to set up the tying goal (I believe) BTW the Flames have another American boy,Johhny Goudreau who has Kane’s moves. Cheers

          1. In 2001 a friend of mine hiked up Mt. Elbert, tallest peak in Colorado, and was surprised to find a contingent of Avalanche office personnel who had hauled the Cup to the summit.

            1. I agree that the Stanley Cup is the best one amongst the pro trophies. It is quite nifty that the personnel of the winning team each get a bit of ‘alone time’ with the Cup. I got to see the Cup in the back of Chris Chelios’ jeep at Zuma Beach as he carted it around Malibu.

          2. The Red Wings really opened up the pipeline of Russian players into the NHL. At the time, it was frowned on by many people. I remember Chicago fans chanting “USA, USA” when playing the Wings. I thought that was pretty amusing – chanting “USA” because their team had more Canadians on it than ours.

          3. A minor nitpick, but there are sporting events held outside of the US. It appears customary for USAians to drop the US qualifier when referring to Merkin sports, which does irritate us lesser mortals a little.

              1. And if I remember correctly, won two years in a row (mid 90s – my son still has the posters somewhere.)

            1. Simon – I too pick this nit. Even though I am a US American, I learned from my friends in Canada, Mexico and Argentina that the US making claim to American has always rubbed them the wrong way. I realize that most Mercans don’t agree with this, but I will keep picking!

    2. Your point is taken, but those are for the most part US-only sporting events. The World Cup is truly global in scope and makes his recognition of African heritage that much more relevant IMHO.

  4. “His excuse is literally this: It’s okay when I do it.” And “…the so-called joke was calculated to appeal to people who think its amusing to make racist jokes so long as it is at the expense of white people.”

    I remember when I was going to school in Hayward, California, in the late ’70s, meeting my first Social Justice Warrior at a party in Berkeley. That term wasn’t used until about 2009 (see, but she obviously was one. (She proudly told me that she had named her dog “Lucha.” “It means ‘struggle,’ she informed me. “Oh,” said I, “you mean like a bar fight?” She was not amused. But I digress…)

    Anyway, she also told me that black people could not be racist, and women could not be sexist, because “sexism is the oppression of women by men.” I responded that that was nonsense; that obviously sexism meant oppression on the basis of one’s sex, nothing more nor less. Pulled out a dictionary to prove it. And…in the ’70s, I was wrong. Said dictionary agreed with our SJW. In the years since, dictionaries have changed to correctly define both sexism and racism, but for many of our colleagues, it’s still apparently a one-way street.

  5. Perhaps he was trying to point out that 17 players of France’s squad are son’s of 1st generation immigrants? This is mostly the take I’ve seen, that France’s soccer success has benefited tremendously from immigration.

      1. Benefited when it comes to winning a soccer game, after dubious penalties gave them the win.
        ‘Benefiting tremendously’, in general, especially given Frances history, seems to be an overstatement.

        The other way round more likely.

        1. I don’t know what you’re saying here – are you saying France as a national team haven’t benefited massively from their African immigrants? Because the previous world cup/european championship-winning team in ’98 and 2000 was similarly packed with immigrants and descendants of immigrants(Djorkaeff, Henry, Zidane, Thuram, Desailly, Trezeguet, etc. etc.) and their greatest ever player is of Algerian descent.

          And if you’re saying France _as a country_ has been ‘tremendously harmed'(“the other way round more likely”) by immigration from Africa then that’s quite a claim.

  6. Spot-on. The more popular Noah gets, the more of the real Noah comes out and the less I enjoy him. What he said, and then said as an “apology” reveals a streak of racism that the left has running right down their backs and refuses to acknowledge. If the French players would return to their ancestral African nations, would he be happier then?

    And also I’d like to point out the BBC for similar racist ignorance. After all teams from African nations were eliminated, they published a piece titled something like “Who should Africans support now that all the African teams are eliminated”. I didn’t bother to read it, but I wonder, was their answer a thinly veiled “whichever team had the most dark skinned players on it”, because Africa is just one big dark homogeneous country, right? Well, as the old saying goes, “I see London, I see France, I see your racist undertones”.

    We are getting increasingly close to the point where the racist right and the racist left could do the old Marx brothers mirror image routine.

    1. Indeed. If you praise an identity group for their good things you could hardly complain if others criticise that identity group for their bad things – because you have accepted group stereotyping for your purposes (however well intended).

      Now I happen to think you can talk about racism/sexism/genderism (whatever) but you have to be painstakingly careful to about percentages and probabilities of an individual having trait X and not talk about the group having trait X. You just have to be very, very careful and anticipate that a lot of Ctrl Left and Alt Right people don’t do nuance very well. But without such fine distinctions identifying justified solutions to social problems is unlikely.

  7. And I’d have to say I’m an English, Irish, Scots, Welsh, German, Dutch, French American
    whose ancestry prior to her great grandfather is so far unknown and unknowable because he was an orphan. If all our distant ancestors left Africa, we could all say we are African whatevers. May we just get over this form of discrimination to celebrate our common humanity? How many current and past sins of the fathers must we continue to say mea culpa over whether or not committed by our genetic fathers or mothers? I did not win the soccar game. I did not commit the atrocities of the past or present. I have done everything in my power to be inclusive and to raise my children to be inclusive, and so forth.

  8. Don’t you know ? Black guy equals African.

    The guy is racist, that’s all.

    By the way, I was under the impression that to play in the French national team, you had to be a French citizen.

    1. You’d think it would work that way. I’ve never been sure about these things.

      I remember (I think) that Arturs Irbe played goal for both the Russian and Kazakh teams – maybe he’s a dual citizen?

      And there were Canadian-American dual citizens who had to decide, IIRC.

  9. I find nothing here to argue with you are Grania about. The Daily Show just makes it worse by letting him try to justify what he has done. I have to wonder how it would turn out if a White guy did what he did??

    If you keep attempting to justify these screw ups, pretty soon you sound like the guy in the white house and nobody wants that.

    1. “I have to wonder how it would turn out if a White guy did what he did??”

      If people considered this question (or its equivalent) in most situations, American politics would cease to exist. 99% or more of what we call politics in the USA is merely “It’s okay when *I* do it!”

  10. Interesting, when I watched the initial video of Trevor calling the win a victory for Africa, I interpreted it as a humorous way of celebrating diversity, just as I read Bari Weiss’s tweet to be a celebration of immigration. Both are examples of tolerance and acceptance. In neither case did I interpret the intention to be racist or of nefarious purposes.

    I think those who are parsing it into a racist joke are looking at the incident through the lens of identity politics. How is Grania’s reaction any different from those Control-Leftists who had the same reaction to Bari Weiss’s tweet.

    1. I don’t see the link with “identity politics”. I am pretty sure I do not understand what you mean. Shouldn’t the “identity politics” position be to say the players of African ascent are Africans ?

    2. Agree with you, and Trevor, 100%. I thought Trevor was affectionately teasing and not SJW at all. He is superb at treating racial matters with a light touch. (Norwegian-English-Swiss-Italian-American resident of Canukistan here. You can call me anything, just don’t call me late for dinner😬)

      1. I agree with you in turn. There was nothing aggressive or ill-intentioned about Noah’s joke, it was a tongue-in-cheek nod to the heavy influence of African immigration on France’s footballing success(same was true of the 98 team that won it).

        His response sounds defensive, but overall this is a storm in a teacup.

    3. I don’t understand your position. Did Mr Noah ask these players of recent African ascent their opinion before calling them Africans ?

      How is it not “Black implies African” ?

      1. If you have names like Umtiti and Dembélé, I think it implies African (just like my Olson implies Scandahoovian. Nothing racist in either case).

            1. Your question made me think a great deal.

              I realize thanks to you what a hot button this is for me.

              To start with, calling somebody a Scandinavian because he has a Scandinavian last name is, to me, just stereotyping.

              My mother has a Russian name. She is not Russian. Simple reason : she doesn’t have the Russian citizenship. If anyone called her a Russian, I would go :
              – Is that the best you can do ? Russian name, therefore Russian ?

              Is Bill Clinton English ?

              Another thing : it just so happens that most of France is not in Africa. As a result, France is not thought of as an African country, rightly so. Saying that Africa won the world cup because some of the players in the French team are of African descent (apparently it is descent, not ascent) sounds like denying them that they are French.

              Even considering, with some generosity, that Noah meant they are both French and Africans (a realization, as Grania puts it, that he seems to have had only once confronted, did he bother to ask any of these players about it ?) I don’t see why they should carry this African label through generations. Interestingly enough, that doesn’t happen to white people. They become French in one generation. My mother is never called a Russian. A French child of Italian parents is French right away (provided his Italian parents are not of Ethiopian descent, in which case, he is African of course, because, don’t you know it ? Black means African.).

              Of course a person can be both French and African. Provided the person is… Well… Both French and African.

              A certain brand of anti racism French, to which I belong, is very sensitive on that matter. We cringe at such things because they almost always go with the idea that there are French-French people and… Well… A lesser kind of French people. This is epitomized in the vomit inducing sentence “I am more French than you are.” (hearing it once is hearing it once too many). Sorry, once you’re French, you’re French to 100% and you have the right to be elected President (no matter where you were born, like Koblenz-born former French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing). More often than we would like, we have to raise our voices to reassert that that every French citizen is French to the same degree. Noah does not help us.

              I will conclude by pointing that some of the players in the French soccer team are not of (recent) African descent. Well, they don’t count. F**k you Lucas Hernandez. You don’t matter. Africa won the world cup.

              “I was born in France, I have drunk the waters of her culture. I have made her past my own. I breathe freely only under her sky, and I have done my best, with others, to defend her.”

              Marc Bloch

              Note : I do not follow soccer.

              1. Sorry to have pushed any buttons for you Damian. I just think that the more diverse we are individually and as a society the better. I don’t think that Trevor was denying the soccer players Frenchness, just adding their Africaness.

              2. I thank you for making me think.

                Also : it’s mainly Trevor Noah who pushed my buttons :).

    4. The difference between me and the Crtl-Left is that I don’t think that Trevor Noah is a racist, nor do I insist that he burn (or freeze) in the seventh circle of hell for all of eternity because of a joke that failed.

      I simply think he needs to put his enormous ego aside long enough to admit that maybe in Europe the joke wasn’t quite as hilarious as he thinks it is because it is almost identical to what the Alt-Right racists say when they claim that non-Whites citizens and immigrants can never really be true Europeans.

      1. I think you are acting, again, as the CL that you just criticize. It was a joke, and I understood it as that. If you have been in a soccer match in France (or any other country), you would haveherd the chants again a rival black players, and how the “French” devils them…… except when they play for the French national team.

      2. I disagree. To me it reads very much like a typical Ctrl-Left post, even if it wasn’t intended to be.

        You start out suggesting he shouldn’t have his job, throw in some jabs at his “unfunny”, “pathetic” jokes, how he’s becoming “toxic” and even blame this joke for causing great social harm.

        I agree that he waded into something he doesn’t really understand and, with some consideration, it clearly isn’t the best thing to joke about. At this point apologizing would be the right response for him.

        That said, this is a huge overreaction, and I don’t love that this site is fine with the vitriol because “he’s somewhat of a SJW”. Is that really where we want to go with all this?

      1. I realized the other day that I can’t hear his accent anymore. Is he starting to sound like an American or is it just me?

        I feel grateful to him
        for the comfort he has given me during these desolate times.

        1. I don’t think he sounds American, though he can put on the pompous old white guy accent, as well as many other accents. I think his default accent sounds slightly British, with just a hint of South Africa.

          Agree with your comment about his giving comfort in troubling times.

          1. I never got to see Jon Stewart regularly on The Daily Show, but what I’ve seen of him in clips and interviews is formidable, in that he’s charismatic, he’s funny(mildly – it’s daily so it’s not all going to be great material), and caustic and incisive. But if you see him talking to actual liberal politicians, people who have to get out there and make things work and who operate under constant pragmatic constraints, and who can’t just point out where things have gone wrong, he sometimes comes across as sanctimonious and finger-wagging and frankly arrogant.

            There was an interview between him and Chris Wallace on Fox News:


            and it was about media bias. I think Fox is astonishingly biased mind, so my instinct was to side with Stewart, but I thought it was such a smug performance, so complacent, that it made me feel a bit conflicted about him. Plus Chris Wallace is one of the good guys over there and I thought he was pretty reasonable.

  11. There’s extra poignancy in American slacktivists berating the French ambassador for his “colonialism” while insisting the poor French players who back his statements wholeheartedly are just ever so confused and clearly need the Americans to speak for them.

  12. I think Noah is very popular among the social justice crowd. Grania is right that Noah is (and has made many) ‘white expense jokes’ and that, sadly, promotes some of his popularity.

    I am fine with this joke, however teapot tempests like the ones Trevor provokes are not helping. The Left garners only insecurity and disconnected pride for one’s tribe at the expense of another tribe.

  13. Every time Noah comes to the UK, his entire act seems to consist of jokes telling us how racist and colonialist we are.

    It gets rather tedious after a while.

    1. Yes, the colonial song starts to get a bit old after a time. Do the regressive lefty’s have a better song or what. As an American I continue to blame the British for holding me back. We should be far closer to ruin than this.

  14. The Daily Show helped me retain my sanity during the dubya years but I haven’t watched since Jon left. Looks like I made the right choice.

    1. That is what I have started to say in these circumstances. A bit more on point than Shakespeare’s “do we not bleed” perhaps, though of course pointing out the same moral basis.

  15. The letter from the Ambassador is rather lovely, and I have no quibble with Grania. Trevor should the first rule of holes.

  16. I think I referred to this earlier, but most of my African friends here consider the French team a halfway African team. I think the French ambassador as well as Mr Noah have some good points.
    What is left out is what these French-of-recent-African-descent players themselves think about it.

    1. Another thought… I watched a bit on Al Jazeera a few weeks ago about the team make-up of the World Cup (ie, which countries get teams, etc) and Africa does rather get the short end of the stick. So perhaps Noah was trying to make a point about that? If so, he should have followed it up with an in depth conversation about the topic. I think I read that the players were quite offended.

      1. ‘which countries get teams’ ?

        I would have thought that any country who raised a team of sufficient competence to play a game (and enough money to fly them around) would have been able to enter.

        Just looking at the map:

        the distribution of the 32 teams that *qualified* (as opposed, presumably, to those who attempted to) is interesting –
        most of South America did
        most of Africa and Asia didn’t
        most of western Europe did
        Mexico did, US and Canada didn’t

        Now, with the possible exception of Africa, which I don’t know about, that seems to me to pretty well reflect the interest in soccer shown in those regions. Everyone knows South Americans and Mexicans are soccer mad, Asians, Middle East and US/Can not so much so.


  17. French officialdom has used the “everyone is French” story to disguise the fact that those from African stock are consistently marginalised, as they can say “it’s 3% of French people” rather than “98% of African-descended citizens”. Off the sporting field they get a very tough deal as I have witnessed first hand when I lived in France only a few years ago.

    Rather than saying Noah plunged France into an ugly debate, I’d say he’s stimulating a healthy debate about an ugly coverup.

    1. From what I know of the situation in France (though admittedly not first-hand), and taking my first response to Trevor Noah’s remarks (before I read any criticism), I’d agree with you on both counts. It’s very facile to be “color blind” when it redounds to a person’s or a nation’s ability to engage in virtue signaling; not so good when the curtain is pulled back to reveal a nasty backwater stink of colonialist racism percolating under the bridges of the Seine.

      1. I recall, too, that during apartheid, Ralph Bunche, who was Undersecretary of the UN and recipient of the Nobel Peace price was granted status as an “Honorary White.” Does the reason for this matter? Does it matter that this man accomplished so much, despite the fact that he was not white? It certainly does to me, and does not diminish his nationality (American) one wit. But the default position is always white, and that can and so often does obliterate such things as ethnicity, when it cannot be glossed over as something inconsequential.

      2. I have not so fond memories of visiting my local prefecture office where the only order for being served by public servants was skin colour, not how long you had waited or how urgent the issue. They would openly discuss what they thought of various citizens of African or Arabic descent. Revolting.

    2. He’s not stimulating any debate, he simply mimicked – probably by sheer lazy accident – exactly the talking points that actual racists make.

      I don’t think Trevor Noah is a racist, I just think this was a sloppy, lazy joke that misfired in Europe. He ought to own that, but he won’t for reasons of ego.

  18. Fuck! it’s a game of soccer, kicking of a round ball, not the coming of christ knows what! like a massive meteorite.
    Did deaths occur? i bet lots of sex and drinking did! and maybe death by folly.
    I actually don’t give a toss if he (Noah) is being a sly dog or anything else.
    Everyone it seems has something derogatory to say about the French (their perceived arrogance) in jest or otherwise, so what’s new? well, this time they got to reply.
    There is a point where race does not matter and does, as been pointed out here, where you got your genes does matter.
    Countries though are a shifting cultural construct and in the big earth planetary picture, it is useful but not as a basis for humanity to progress on.
    You’ve had your fun Noah, now fuck off!

  19. Funny, I thought it was anti-French bigotry and fully expected comments about “cheese eating” and “surrender” in reference to why the soccer team was configured as it was

  20. I heard one of my daughter’s friends call a black English actor an African American. In a friendly conversation, we could not come up with a political correct way of describing a black from Europe.

    1. Umm, ‘black’?

      I agree, it’s a puzzle. Occasioned by the fact that the latest in a long line of euphemisms is suddenly location-specific (I mean the ‘-American’ bit).

      I really don’t know how to refer succinctly but innocuously to a European person of dark-skinned ancestry.

      The problem with euphemisms is, even when somebody comes up with one that isn’t absurd if taken literally, no sooner does it become generally accepted than it inherits all the negative connotations from the previous euphemism and a new one has to be found.


      1. Yeah but, that is not adequate in all contexts. If it was, then, on the other side of the pond, ‘African-American’ would also be a totally superfluous description.


      2. My problem with this is that there are situations where skin color is a useful way to distinguish between people. There are situations where I need to point out which person I’m talking about, and skin being the most obvious thing about a person “The black guy” is often an easy way to get the other person to understand me. I–and those around me, fortunately–see this as no more racist than “The blond one” or “the one with the long hair”; it’s just an easily-identifiable feature to help figure out which person is being discussed. Pretending that these features don’t exist is simply silly.

        But, as infiniteimprobabilit points out, there’s the baggage issue. “Retarded” started out as a medical term–an attempt specifically to AVOID negative connotations. Try saying it now and see what it gets you (actually don’t–one thing it’ll get you is fired). “Black”, “negro”, and other terms were also attempts to avoid the negative connotations of slurs of the past. Again, it hasn’t worked out that way.

  21. Regarding Trevor’s bit: IT’S A JOKE, in the context of a Comedy Show, on a Comedy Network.

    College campuses must be expanding into the general population.

    1. Thanks for sharing this, John. I saw this this morning and didn’t realize that our readers hadn’t all seen this. I see the whole thing as a tempest in a teapot (or in a ratatouille?). I think that Trevor was excellent in his response.

      1. +1 – Thanks – As usual Noah cuts to the chase and expresses things with eloquent humor and irony. To me, he clarified the entire issue admirably and with grace.

      2. I disagree that he was excellent in his response. He repeats his dumb “Africa won the World Cup” statement to raucous applause from the audience. He does a dopey French accent when he reads the ambassador’s letter; how respectful! He doesn’t seem to take much responsibility for his ignorant remarks and doubles down on his preaching about colonialism, again to the applause of the trained seals in the audience.

        Also, as long as we are talking about Africa in the World Cup, can we mention how poorly actual African nations did??? Not one made it into the knockout rounds, and that includes a country like Nigeria, boasting close to 200 million people. What level of dysfunction is going on in these countries? If France should be criticized for its colonialism, it should also be praised for actually helping athletes of recent African decent reach their full potential.

  22. I watched Noah’s bit.

    “Look at those guys. You don’t get that tan by hanging out in the South of France my friends.”

    So, judging by skin colour, are we ?

    Well, Noah grew up in apartheid South Africa, what do you expect ?

  23. What a beautiful command of English the French ambassador has! (Or, I suppose I have to admit the possibility, some assistant).

    Eloquent and to the point.

    In stark contrast to many (if not most) in the ‘media’, whose mangling of the English language makes me groan and swear at the TV screen.


    1. Not to mention the horrible mangling of English by Trump… Bernard-Henry Lévy is another Frenchman with an excellent command of a English, albeit heavily accented.

    2. You can tell that the person who wrote this was a native speaker of a Romance language. The syntax is a bit different from what a native English speaker will use. Which is why it seems more eloquent–there’s a long history of upper class folks trying to turn English into a Romance language. That’s where the “don’t split infinitives” and “Don’t end sentences with prepositions” came from, for example.

      Not saying that what you say isn’t true. I’m just pointing out a weird and obscure quirk of linguistics, particularly in the history of the English language. 🙂

  24. Well I guess I disagree with pretty nearly everyone here. Noah’s joke, boiled down, is: “blacks saved your ass”. As for the connection to France specifically, he’s working off the fact an overwhelmingly white country has a mostly black team. France “imported” (scare quotes) it’s black population by colonialism, but is happy to bask in the glory of a “French” (scare quotes) win without mentioning that.

    1. So you would disagree with the French ambassador, who seems to think that a French citizen with dark skin should not have a qualifying adjective to distinguish them from “real” French (read “white”) people?

      I honestly don’t see that value in making this distinction. To try to segregate real French from fake French goes against the whole point of citizenship in a nation state, and feeds into mouth-breathers who cannot stand immigrants into their country that happen to look different from them. And for a country that is currently facing some assimilation problems with its Muslim population, I would think that the last thing that you would want to do is to start making distinctions between faux-French and good ole’ white French people.

      What is the value of mentioning colonialism in this context to offset all of the negatives I just mentioned? Nothing, apart from making some people feel superior about themselves. This virtue signaling certainly does nothing to undo the past evils of colonialism.

      1. The best way to fight racists who think having African heritage makes you less French is not to ignore or try to hide the fact of African heritage, but to celebrate their African-ness while confirming their 100% French-ness. Denying their African heritage plays into the racists’ hands by conceding their (wrong) point of view that African-ness dilutes your French-ness. The message must be emphasized from the rooftops: you can be both!

    2. The United States “imported” (scare quotes) their black population by slavery, but are happy to bask in the glory of plenty “American” (scare quotes) wins without mentioning that.

  25. I was impressed by the ambassador’s letter, and by the reaction of French people. The US could learn a thing or two from people who consider ethnic category secondary to national identity.

  26. Remember when the writers for this show actually wrote jokes? Every time I’ve tried to watch it since the Presidential primaries started, the show has very rarely had jokes. Instead, like so much “humor” from the left these days, it deals in lines that are supposed to make progressives applaud in political solidarity. “hahaha Trump [insert insult about hair or hands or manner of speaking or something else], hahaha” isn’t a joke, it’s an insult, and it’s usually childish and utterly lacking in substance or any semblance of creative spark. Even the commercials for the show almost invariably show a clip of Noah saying something in a mock Trump or Melania voice. No joke, just mockery.

    It’s no longer written to make you laugh; it’s written to make you clap at making fun of people with zero creativity. That’s not humor; it’s just preaching to the choir and the choir lapping it up.

    1. *It’s no longer written to make you laugh; it’s written to make you clap at making fun of people from the outgroup with zero creativity.

    2. This reminds me of a criticism of the latest Star Wars movies. The reviewer made the assertion that SJW ideology seems to have influenced the writing and themes behind the most recent movies, to the great detriment of their quality. That is, the mere placing of non-white actors in roles in the movies in the name of check-the-box diversity will automatically imbue them with moral and political significance. But unfortunately, they often forget to create INTERESTING characters and plot lines along with the superficial diversity.

  27. The smugness of some on the left, such that they don’t even seem to see or care about their hypocrisy, is what irks so many (even if they can’t quite put a finger on it) and may actually have played a small but material part in Trump’s victory.

  28. With Trevor Noah’s logic one could say that every time Uruguay or Argentina won the world cup it was Europe that won.

    By the way, all (not just almost all) players of France are French citizens, otherwise they would not be allowed to play for France.

  29. If you ask any American what he is, he’ll say Irish/German/Polish/Native American. you make all these fancy DNA tests to be able to do so. Why would you care about this. The Daily show aims at an American audience that thinks like that.
    It’s a bit different in Europe, where the country you live in and the passport you have are normally supposed to override your ancestry. Which is why the ambassador felt offended.
    Still – Noah made what we in the business call “a joke”. One that hit a sore spot, because usually, the national teams are only the pride of that nation when they win. When they dare to lose, in all European countries right wings to conservatives start the same old “are they REALLY French/German/Italian/Norwegian” BS discussion.

  30. I agree with Trevor, both with his initial video and his subsequent defense of it. On the face of it he recognized their African heritage. This is neither factually inaccurate nor an insult in any conceivable way to the players. He says he identifies with their African-ness (something I do as well, being an African immigrant) and doing so should not automatically be assumed to be an attack on their French-ness, just because racists think being one diminishes the other. This brings to mind Richard Dawkins’ tee shirt with the phrase “We are all Africans” to espouse unity among all peoples based on common descent.

    1. “We are all Africans” : is it to say that, no matter which team wins, “Africa won the world cup” ? But then it is also Africa that lost.

      If Noah’s point is that “We are all Africans”, what of his disturbing statement :

      “Look at those guys. You don’t get that tan by hanging out in the South of France my friends.”


      In a previous post you mention celebrating the African-ness of these players. I am not at ease with the (to me) recent use of the verb “to celebrate”, a use that seems to me as coming from the USA, however, even if I understood what this celebration thing is about, if we are all Africans, what is there to celebrate ? We might as well go “Yeah, go human beings !”.

      On the other hand, if we are not all Africans, Noah is very casual with these players who are not of recent African descent. They no not count.

      It seems to me that the players of recent African descent are doing tremendous efforts to integrate the French society. Although they would probably never repudiate their African origins if asked about them, I am not sure they are completely happy, on the day they have won this much coveted trophy for France and probably acquired a desirable position in the French society, that everybody be reminded that they are Africans. I suspect that for most of them, it was the day they demonstrated their commitment, their loyalty to France.

      These players are grown ups. Let them express their African-ness by themselves, as did another Noah, Yannick, on the day he won Roland Garros, he said something along the lines of “This is also a victory for my second homeland, Cameroon.” (quoting from memory). A statement by the way that, to my knowledge, did not make anyone twitch in France. But Noah’s mother was French and he probably did not feel any need to integrate much more. Also he was playing for himself, not as “the French team”.

  31. All this reinforces us to rue that Belgium didn’t win. Still the best team in the competition, albeit by a small margin, I’d say. 🙂

  32. On another note, I remember reading in my African history course many moons ago that African schoolchildren in French colonies had to read “Nos Ancêtres les Gauls”. You are French, and no matter what your genetic lineage, you are descended from the Gauls😳. I can recognize pros and cons to this approach (par example Africans tend to speak a beautiful Parisian French), but I think it may explain a bit about the French Ambassador’s POV.

    1. “Nos ancêtres les Gaulois” (not “les Gauls”).

      In the colonies, I am not sure, but in the parts of France beyond the seas, like in the West Indies, sure. Simply because that was in the national school curriculum.

      As a matter of fact, former President Sarkozy, whom I hate and just cannot wait to see put in jail (pliiiz Jisis, let me see that) literally said “Once you’re French, the Gauls are your ancestors and that’s it.” (quoting from memory), which seems to me, of course, excessive.

      1. Yes, you’re right that it was Gaulois, Damien. I spent two years in a very French school in Martinique ages 6-8, too young to be reading the aforementioned histoire, but my father served 6 years at the American Embassies in Nigeria and Sierra Leone and later my brother served in Abidjan and Dakar and both of them talked about this prevalent French curriculum in “French” Africa.

  33. I would like to thank Merilee for a civil and constructive discussion, and apologize to everybody, in particular to South Africans, for my joke about Trevor Noah being a product of Apartheid South Africa, it of course did not apply to you.

  34. It rubs me the wrong way that the French ambassador reacted with a document to the words of a comedian. To me, this smacks of an official, and a foreign official to boot, trying to police the speech of private people.

    The same way, I was indignant when the US ambassador to my country objected against an annual rally of the far-right. And I was not alone. Even some leftists who hate the rally and its participants said that “this gentleman should look at Trump first”.

  35. “In the eyes of Grindel and his supporters, I am German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose.”

    – Mesut Ozil said on Sunday (Jul 22) he was quitting the German national football team, citing “racism” in the criticism of him in the side’s World Cup debacle.

  36. Greetings from the confines of France. It seems to me that this has become teapot storm reaction, seems also to me that we can rapidly get touchy all by ourselves even though there’s no hurt directed to us. Ambassador Gérard Araud took it for himself and looks offended by this genuine burlesque joke.
    Whose feelings are we discussing here anyway? There’s a long debate in France about whether or not are we allowed to laugh about anything. The criminal attacks at Charlie Hebdo fueled this subject with tragic and more complexity.
    I take Trevor’s joke as it came out, a fun remark, a pun of a known comedian linking issues that are not necessarily linked together in any way. Who thinks that a continent (i.e. Africa) could win the world soccer championship over other continents? Who thinks here Africa is a nation? People don’t get the pun? The symbolism of it, in our times? The gross exaggeration? Feel awkward/bad about it? That’s alright, it’s impossible to please everyone.
    I find Trevor’s proposal isn’t put out in the same tone or intent as any dogmatic alt-right extremist. While joking he’s playing on a line of sensitive ideas and facts to expose attitudes like grandeur, pomp, circumstance and hypocrisy. I didn’t feel the comedian was legitimizing nonsense the way the alt-right braggarts do it shamelessly. Neither did i felt he was pulling the blanket towards a special group whatsoever, nor try to abuse anyone. Could it be Trevor, using nuance, hit a formula to mock dumb chauvinism? To mock those boasting which is greatest or dumbest? Have a laugh at our naivety? To make fun of our schizophrenic views on our suntans? Provoking people in power and fluent in double-language? …?
    One thing he pointed at was the fact that France was once a colonialist country, a self-righteous one I would add, like some other countries. To this day some French politics are still claiming that colonialism had a positive impact on the colonized populations… France itself has never really overcome this tragic era of criminal politics. As if all this tragic wasn’t enough, lots of French citizens are today still very, very reluctant and confused to acknowledge the French government responsibility at that time, be it from the right or left wing, while extremists idealizing it. Being a colonizing nation that built such a huge part of its wealth on forcing slaves and colonized people to work for free is a fact too often dismissed in the stories, memories, declarations, or claims of commentators and leaders. Polarization on these issues (origins, slavery, colonization) disappear instantly when the nation owns a victory, a promise fulfilled that all strain fades out in the light of our blinking glory. Nevertheless, the unrest resurfaces strongly the following days as we turn our look at how thousands of legit emigrants or refugees are mistreated and instrumentalized in France.
    Recognition of the terrible role of all governments and countries involved in the world slave trade and colonialism needs to be politically and humbly addressed, in the name of equality and fraternity.
    Anyway, boycotted the whole soccer 2018 event, period.

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