Ian Gordon

Ian Gordon

Copy Editor

When not wrangling copy for the MoJo crew, Ian writes about immigration, sports, and Latin America. His work has appeared in ESPN the Magazine, Wired, and Slate. Got a comment or a tip? Email him: igordon [at] motherjones [dot] com.

Get my RSS |

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Ditching the Redskins, Once and for All

| Fri Aug. 9, 2013 6:00 AM EDT

Over at Slate yesterday, editor David Plotz wrote about the site's decision to never again refer to Washington's professional football team as the Redskins. In explaining the change, Plotz argued that although the franchise's (racist) first owner, George Preston Marshall, likely chose the name in an effort "to invoke Indian bravery and toughness, not to impugn Indians," ultimately "the world changes, and all of a sudden a well-intentioned symbol is an embarrassment."

It is an absolute embarrassment—for the NFL, for the nation's capital, and for nanny-underpayer/owner Dan Snyder, who has stubbornly vowed never to change the team's name, even in the face of common decency and a federal trademark suit.

And so, in an admittedly small gesture, Mother Jones is also tweaking our house style guide, joining Slate and a group of other publications, from The New Republic to Washington City Paper. From here on out, we will refer to the team online and in print as "Washington" or "Washington's pro football team" or, if we get sassy, "the Washington [Redacted]."

For those of you who come to Mother Jones for your breaking NFL news…never mind, I can't even.

There is a chance, however, that the term will end up back on our pages. We certainly won't strike it from a quote. And if we end up writing a post or two about how Snyder still hasn't changed the name, despite increasing scrutiny, we reserve the right to use it again—if only to highlight how incredibly out-of-touch and backward the Washington football team's owner truly is.

Update (8/13/13): The Onion nails it, to no one's surprise: "Report: Redskins' Name Only Offensive If You Think About What It Means"

9 Songs for Nelson Mandela

| Thu Jul. 18, 2013 3:05 AM EDT

Before Nelson Mandela celebrated his birthdays with UN declarations and millions of singing children, he spent 27 years in prison, 18 of them on South Africa's infamous Robben Island. In spite of his confinement and disappearance from the world stage (the apartheid government even banned his image), Mandela inspired a generation of activists and artists inside and outside of South Africa.

On the former South African president and anti-apartheid leader's 95th birthday, let's revisit some of the songs that helped put—and keep—Mandela in the minds of millions.

1. The Special AKA: "Nelson Mandela"
This super-popular and catchy protest song was released in 1984, when Mandela was nearly 20 years into his life sentence. Here it's performed with a little backup from Elvis Costello and the English Beat's Ranking Roger and Dave Wakeling.

2. Hugh Masekela, "Mandela (Bring Him Back Home)"
Masekela's wish to see the imprisoned Mandela "walking down the street" was all the more poignant considering that the South African trumpeter had been living in exile in the United States since the early '60s.

3. Brenda Fassie, "Black President"
Fassie, a South African pop sensation who died in 2004, sang this tribute in 1990, four years before Mandela was elected South Africa's first black (and democratically elected) president.

4. Johnny Clegg & Savuka, "Asimbonanga"
Mandela's absence was also lamented in the South African singer's 1986 hit, whose title and chorus means "we have not seen him" in Zulu.

5. Salif Keita, "Mandela"
"You shed tears for others," sings the Malian star in this 1995 tribute.

6. Vusi Mahlasela, "When You Come Back"
Before it was used to promote the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Mahlasela's 1994 song alluded both to Mandela and Vuyisile Mini, an African National Congress activist and songwriter who was executed in 1964.

7. Miriam Makeba, "Ndodemnyama (Beware, Verwoerd)"
This 1950s song written by Mini doesn't mention Mandela, but it warns Hendrik Verwoerd, the architect of apartheid, of the struggle to come.

8. Artists United Against Apartheid, "Sun City"
Mandela gets a quick visual shout-out in this '80s-tastic video. (And see if you can spot Run D.M.C., Lou Reed, and Keith Richards among the many musical celebrities crammed into this single penned by Little Steven Van Zandt.)

9. Dishonorable mention: Nickelback, "If Everyone Cared"
There have been some crummy songs about Mandela, too. This one has nothing to say about Mandela (or anything for that matter), but it does shamelessly include him in its video.

Fri Oct. 17, 2014 6:50 AM EDT
Mon Nov. 11, 2013 7:00 AM EST
Fri Aug. 9, 2013 6:00 AM EDT
Thu Jul. 18, 2013 3:05 AM EDT
Tue Mar. 5, 2013 6:57 PM EST
Fri Feb. 1, 2013 3:59 PM EST
Sun Dec. 23, 2012 7:11 AM EST
Thu Dec. 22, 2011 7:00 AM EST
Mon Nov. 7, 2011 6:25 PM EST
Tue Oct. 25, 2011 6:00 AM EDT
Wed Oct. 19, 2011 4:43 PM EDT
Wed Aug. 24, 2011 6:00 AM EDT
Mon Aug. 1, 2011 6:17 PM EDT