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Vietnamese Buddhists Thought Poet Allen Ginsberg Was a Spy

June 5, 1963 - The Buddhists, who are in conflict with the South Vietnamese Government, expressed the belief today that the United States Government had sent a “spy to look at us.” A Buddhist spokesman told this to newsmen. The newsmen, incredulous, asked if the spokesman would be good enough to describe the “spy.” “Well, he was tall and had a beard, and his was hair was long in back and curly,” the Buddhist said. “He said he was a poet and a little crazy and that he liked Buddhists. We didn’t know what else he was, so we decided he was a spy.” At this point, his listeners burst out laughing and and informed the Buddhist that the “spy” was the American poet, Allen Ginsberg, a well-known beatnik. Mr. Ginsberg was in Saigon briefly for several days on his way to British Columbia after a long stay in India. The Buddhist controversy with the South Vietnamese Government involves their resentment over Government curbs on their activities, including a ban on raising the Buddhist flag.


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