Thích Quảng Đức set himself on fire 59 years ago to protest the war in Vietnam

Originally published at: Thích Quảng Đức set himself on fire 59 years ago to protest the war in Vietnam | Boing Boing


Somewhat famously, Kevin Carter couldn’t escape the trauma of his most famous photos of the famine in Sudan (eta: trigger warning; it’s a brutal image). He took his own life four months after winning the Pulitzer for his work. It’s heartbreaking to think about kids like Darnella Frazier carrying such a burden.


He set himself on fire to protest treatment and persecution of Buddhists by the Catholic-majority government of South Vietnam. Not war-related at all.

ETA. The protest was part of what is called the “Buddhist Crisis,” and part of a civil rights campaign by Buddhists, against whom the South Vietnamese government of Ngô Đình Diệm had passed a series of repressive laws.


It’s a moral and ethical conundrum to be sure. Someone has to bear witness to instances of injustice and suffering, but doing it in the moment of horrors like this are going to leave a mark on the psyche of the witness. I have no easy answers, except to say that it highlights the utter uselessness and borderline depravity of the mere bystander in such situations.


I don’t know that I would go that far. Vietnam was at war at the time. I’m sure connections could be drawn.

However, here’s a self-immolation more directly connected to war in Vietnam:

The North Vietnamese named a street after him.


Those witnesses need to be the ones responsible for such injustice and suffering. The hard part is getting an audience with them. Sometimes you just have to do it at their front door if you can even figure who “they” are.


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