As we all learned during the 2016 Republican presidential primaries, there’s only one person Trevor Noah loves talking about more than Donald Trump. And that person is Dr. Ben Carson.
Now, the newly confirmed secretary of Housing and Urban Development—or, as Noah said Trump calls him, “the secretary of blacks”—is back in the news. This week he delivered his first address to his new department and drummed up some controversy by seeming to equate “immigrants” and “slaves.”
“There were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships, worked even longer, even harder, for less,” Carson said in his remarks.
“That’s one way to describe slavery,” The Daily Show host responded Tuesday night. “It makes them sound like they work at Wal-Mart.” He added, “Look, I love Ben Carson, but calling slaves immigrants is like saying, ‘It’s not kidnapping, that person just got a free vacation in a basement!’”
As part of his damage-control mission, Carson actually defended the basis of his statements and challenged people to look up the word “immigrant” in a dictionary. Noah obliged, presenting this definition: “a person who comes to a country to take up a permanent residence.” The host pointed out that, for one, slaves were considered “property” not people, and secondly “they didn’t come to America, they were taken here by force.”
“Eddie Murphy came to America,” he added. “Kunta Kinte was brought. Big difference, people!” It’s “seductive to believe that African-Americans share in the American immigration story,” Noah said, revealing, as was reported by a handful of conservative outlets earlier in the day, that President Obama “said something similar” just two years ago.
“It wasn’t always easy for new immigrants,” Obama said at a naturalization ceremony for new citizens in 2015. “Certainly it wasn’t easy for those of African heritage who had not come here voluntarily, and yet in their own way were immigrants themselves.”
But in the case of Obama, Noah said, “You could tell when he said that part he was thinking, ‘Damn, my speechwriter fucked up.’”
“It doesn’t matter who said it,” the host continued. “Slaves weren’t immigrants. Because an immigrant has choice. They choose the country they’re going to because they hope it will bring them a better life.” To say otherwise, he added, “helps justify blaming African-Americans for their hardships.”
Noah ended his segment by presenting the uplifting trailer for “12 Years a New Guy in Town,” from “the visionary mind of Dr. Ben Carson.”
“Because sometimes you don’t get to choose your own adventure. The adventure chooses you.”