The Fire Sparked by the Buddhist Crisis

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The Fire Sparked by the Buddhist Crisis On June 11, 1963, Malcolm Browne took a photograph. His image would become the symbol for a period in the Vietnam conflict known as the Buddhist Crisis. Browne’s photo was of a monk sitting in the middle of the street, moments after dousing himself in fuel and lighting a match. The monk’s name was Thich Quang Duc, and his suicide would have repercussions not just in Vietnam but overseas in the United States as well. His action stimulated major growth in the Buddhist Crisis, inspiring leaders of the movement to increase militant actions against President Ngo Dinh Diem’s regime. Duc’s self-immolation was symbolic of something much larger than a single political act, representing a movement that would completely alter United States policy in Vietnam and eventually lead to the assassination of President Diem. Revered reporter David Halberstam wrote of Thich Quang Duc’s self-immolation in his book The Making of a Quagmire of, "…a young Buddhist priest with a microphone saying calmly over and over again in Vietnamese and English, 'A Buddhist priest burns himself to death. A Buddhist priest becomes a martyr.'” The fact that the priest was speaking in English showed that he wanted American reporters to get the story, he wanted Americans to understand what was occurring. The photograph captured a dramatic moment in time, but shared only a glimpse of the magnitude with which the Buddhist Crisis would affect the future of the Vietnam

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