To the Editor:
In May Jeong’s article in Vanity Fair’s July/August 2021 issue titled “All I Know is How to kill People” sweeping, offensive, and often sensationalized quotes are used in depicting the city as unsafe and evil. The citation of a painful lynching in 1941 (in addition to the article’s childish title) sets the tone for this article, which should have been titled “All I want to do is sow fear hate and outrage”.
Interviewing people who have lost loved ones in the area will inevitably lead to a very jaded view of the city as such moments become, unfortunately, defining ones for those individuals and the victims.
The use of disgruntled soldiers who claim to do nothing and serve no purpose should take advantage of the free education they can get from the military and online if their superiors cannot keep them busy. I did that when I was enlisted and so stayed out of trouble and was promoted quicker than my peers.
Tales of rosary beads snapping when entering post (easy to do if they are stressfully used as worry beads) and the author not being able to sleep at night because of the PTSD of all this, (and others “feeling bad vibes”) is meant to scare readers into believing that there is an underlying malevolent force at work in the city.
Aside for quoting people she interviewed, Ms. Jeong footnotes nothing and we are made to believe anything that has been said in the article as truth. When speaking of crimes, it is clear that some sources had to be used; but none are cited or quoted in the article.
Other statements are unfounded, such as the phrase of there being 38 tattoo parlors in Killeen. There are actually 20, with a couple that are temporarily closed as one can see on Google Maps.
And, though I have no tattoos myself, I am very respectful of the men and women whose livelihood is earned using this visual art form. So to say that this is a negative attribute of the city is a truly unnecessary and demeaning slam.
In my reading of the article, there was neither interface with the chamber of commerce nor any interaction with the Killeen communication department. The city’s many attributes and opportunities were never mentioned.
To wit; we have four institutes of higher learning — CTC, Texas A&M-Central Texas, University of Phoenix and Vista College. There is a military museum being built that unlike most others, it is actually off post so outsiders can visit. There are four airports for numerous uses. There are 438 acres of public parks in the area.
In the city there are many restaurants from all ethnicities and a variety of grocery stores. In addition to a large multi screen cinema, there are many venues that put on live entertainment to include a theatre with monthly affordable plays throughout the year. Let alone the tax breaks for disabled vets and proximity to many hospitals and a military base, the housing is affordable for all and attractive in Killeen. I
It has boasted its own newspaper- the Killeen Daily Herald for many years with reporters and staff that write and interview in numerous locations to create a publication that reaches 55,000 households.
This list is not exhaustive, but is meant to praise the town for its attributes rather than degrade it because of its unfortunate victims or not so attractive areas.
In the future, any journalist writing about a city they do not know well, should interview its politicians or fellow journalists in the place they are investigating. This would be in order to get some advice on what to see, and what the perceived problems or situations a given town is faced with. And above all, they should footnote sources that are not interviews they have personally given. In that vein, they can write a more holistic article which could cite all the pros and cons of an area.
retired U.S. Army major