Talking to his studio audience, but not as part of The Daily Show broadcast, Noah read a letter from Gerard Araud, Ambassador of France to the U.S., protesting his joke:
I watched with great attention your July 17 show when you spoke of the victory of the French team at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Final which took place last Sunday. I heard your words about an “African” victory. Nothing could be less true.
As many of the players have already stated themselves, their parents may have come from another country, but the great majority of them, all but two out of 23 were born in France. They were educated in France. They learned to play soccer in France. They are French citizens. They’re proud of their country, France. The rich and various backgrounds of these players are a reflection of France’s diversity.
Responded Noah: “I’m not trying to be an asshole, but I think it’s more a reflection of France’s colonialism.”
The ambassador’s letter continues:
Unlike in the United States of America, France does not refer to its citizens based on their race, religion, or origin. To us, there is no hyphenated identity. Roots are an individual reality. By calling them an African team, it seems like you’re denying their French-ness. This, even in jest, legitimizes the ideology which claims whiteness is the only definition of being French.”
Noah, however, insisted he was not trying to take away their French-ness and, turning the tables, said the ambassador was taking away their African-ness.
“That is what I love about America. America is not a perfect country, but what I love about this place is that people can still celebrate their identity in their American-ness.”