Yes, AP, There Is a Riot Cause

4 ¾ min

Toward the end of August 2020, CNN became the butt of jokes when they showed a reporter standing in front of burning buildings in Kenosha, Wisconsin, a direct result of rioting over the Jacob Blake incident. The kicker came from the title over the bottom of the burning images: “Fiery but mostly peaceful protests after police shooting.”

Such blatant contradiction was laughable, a sign of serious cognitive dissonance that any thinking person could see right through.

It appears, however, that CNN was just one step ahead in the new media playbook. In late September 2020, the AP Stylebook rolled out its new standards for reporting about riots.

The AP Stylebook’s tweet thread starts out well enough. Individuals should use care when deciding when to use the word riot. In fact, news organizations like CNN should have been more careful with their word selection. Given the incidents of the last several months, the word riot as defined by the AP should have been used far more than the “peaceful protests” alternative.

But then the AP Stylebook goes off the deep-end by intimating that reporters need to focus on the “underlying grievance” driving riots. Since when, one might ask, must reporters choose their words based on the underlying grievances which may or may not be present in an event? Will news become even more subjective as reporters grapple with what they perceive as the underlying issues affecting a situation?

Perhaps ironically, such guidance by the AP demonstrates that there is a major problem with rioting in the United States. Rather than creating alternative narratives, however, true reporters should ask questions. Are there “underlying grievances” as is suggested, or is the violence we see spurred instead by underlying cultural issues that many in the media would like us to ignore and forget?

The late author and historian Russell Kirk would say the latter. In his book The Roots of American Order, Kirk notes: “One of the more pressing perils of our time is that people may be cut off from their roots in culture and community. ‘The rootless are always violent,’ Hannah Arendt says.”

That being the case, let’s ask if those we see rioting today are “rootless.”

Are they anchored in families, the core of society? A 2019 Pew Research survey found that 23 percent of children 18 and under come from single parent homes, suggesting a high level of instability in family life.

Are they rooted in churches and neighborhoods, connection points that offer support systems on both the metaphysical and physical levels? Gallup reports that in the two decades preceding 2018, church membership dropped from 70 to 50 percent. With regards to communities, only 45 percent of those between ages 18 and 29 report feeling attached to their community, a stark contrast to the 73 percent of adults 65 and older who feel the same.


As Kirk goes on to say,

Whenever people cease to be aware of membership in an order—an order that joins the dead, the living, and the unborn, as well as an order that connects individual to family, family to community, community to nation—those people will form a ‘lonely crowd,’ alienated from the world in which they wander. And to the person and the republic, the consequences of such alienation will be baneful.

No one wants to talk about this “lonely crowd” detached from the traditional moorings of family and community. Instead, their problems and violent outbursts – or rather, “unrest” – are pinned on racism and other grievances.

What will happen if we continue, like the AP Stylebook, to make excuses for violence while trying to convince the general public to “move along, as there’s nothing to see here!”? Sadly, such actions will only hide the real problem and will cut short the precious time we have to reverse course. To quote Kirk again:

Moral and social order, or a vast part of it, may be destroyed by a few years of violence or a few decades of contemptuous neglect. Then hope is lost, for many generations: for order is a kind of organic growth, developing slowly over many centuries….

To live within a just order is to live within a pattern that has beauty. The individual finds purpose within an order, and security—whether it is the order of the soul or the order of the community. Without order, indeed the life of man is poor, nasty, brutish, and short. No order is perfect, but any tolerable order may be improved.

We can continue to promote a continual victim status as the AP seems to be doing. We can just justify the riots continuing to flare up across the country, or we can seek to restore true order by addressing the deeper issues of the heart and soul that plague young Americans. One leads to order and security; the other leads toward nasty brutishness. Which path will you encourage our country to follow?


Image Credit: 

Flickr-Sergio, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Annie Holmquist

Annie Holmquist

Annie Holmquist is the editor of Intellectual Takeout. When not writing or editing, she enjoys reading, gardening, and time with family and friends.

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I am understandably upset about several things in my life and I do not get a free pass to burn down my town or harm people. if I did do those things, I would also not expect people to.pretend to not see it. Yikes. We are seriously losing a grasp on reality.


As usual, this an insightful and informative article . . . you should be teaching a class for the "journalists" at CNN. Really sad part is, I am not cure that they could even understand the concept of Journalism.


These so called riots are funded by George Soros, BLM, ANTIFA. Where is THAT in your article? Soros is only a puppet in a much larger brew of psychos who believe they dominate the world because, wait for it--nobody opposes them, at least nobody good. (Competition is fierce). Why are these people doing the rioting so willing to do it? Because they have no ethics, no morals. Sure some are paid soldiers but what you wrote has some merit. What you wrote has a cause and the broken family has been created over decades and this creation isn't by accident--it's by design. The day you start to realize your present, and future, is under design by people--not some accidental chaos theory--your understanding will come into focus. Too many articles on this site lack the big picture causes and I wonder if we have some Leftists in this group. Infiltration is the way to create a Fifth Column that takes over and destroys (changes) what was there before.


Joe Allen
With respect to the AP’s view of “reporting”, you might find Lance Morrow’s op-ed, Before Reporting Became ‘Journalism’ interesting. As Morrow says, “Plastering the facts with attitude—tilting the story to the party line, moralizing it, sentimentalizing it, propagandizing it—is the way of noisy, distracted cable news and, increasingly, of all media…This is not honest reporting but garish, partisan fabulation. Its object is not to inform, or to encourage reflection, but to stimulate feelings.” As Morrow notes earlier in the article “Emphasis on the integrity of individual judgment has all but disappeared in the face of identity politics, the religion of diversity and the radical corruption of American universities—the effect everywhere intensified by this year’s obsessive and, one might say, compulsory racialism. America won’t be an honest country until those influences have been defeated or have burned themselves out. It may take years, a generation or two.” And the ‘lonely crowd’ of lost souls is looking for God in all the wrong causes; any emotional fix will do. They are easy prey for extremist groups who want to destroy the American system. As long as they get media coverage, the ‘lonely crowd’ will continue to follow the extremists.


The AP Stylebook is a dream come true for agent provocateurs. They can operate with out fear of being detected because the AP has provided a legitimate cover for rioting. I'm just pointing this out. I agree with everything said in the article I just adding this point. I have no doubt that agent provocateurs are responsible for at least some of the rioting. For example, the burning of the Chase Bank in La Mesa California is highly suspicious.