Caretakers in a Pennsylvania cemetery found the gravestone of Hugh Rodham — the father of presidential hopeful and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton — had been toppled from its base only two days after the Democratic frontrunner announced her intention to seek the White House for the second time. While the local authorities have been reluctant to point fingers, the police chief told a local news outlet that vandals could have overturned the foot-thick stone from its base. Given the timing of the incident, locals worry that the grave disruption was intentional and politically motivated. And thus the 2016 election gets underway.
Clinton confirmed viral speculation about her intent to run for the presidency by releasing an official video on her Twitter account Sunday. Two days later, a caretaker from Scranton, Pennsylvania, was driving by the Washburn Street Cemetery when he noticed that the large grave marker bearing the Rodham name in large stenciled letters was missing from its base. Paul McGloin, who has taken care of the Rodham grave for over twenty years, reported the incident to the authorities.
“I pass here five, six times a day because I live two blocks from here and when I looked I couldn't believe it, to see that it was tipped over,” McGloin told WNEP News.
Police Chief Carl Graziano was hesitant to conclude that vandals had come in to defile the gravesite, although he noted that it was a substantive possibility and the cemetery has seen incidents of vandalism in the past.
"I'm not sure how else it would have fallen over," he told The Times-Tribune.
Funeral director Neil Regan is convinced that the act was intentional and that it was politically motivated.
“The more I thought about it, there were no serious winds or weather events yesterday and Paul McGloin told me he had driven by here eight o'clock yesterday morning and the stone was in place,” Regan told WNEP News.
Regan had the stone returned onto its base Tuesday afternoon. So far, the Clinton campaign has not commented publicly on the incident.
If the vandals were attempting to make a political statement against Clinton’s candidacy, they chose the wrong target: as the Daily Mail notes, Hugh Rodham was a lifelong Republican voter. Rodham, who grew up in Scranton and ran a textiles business out of Chicago, died in 1993.
It seems our hopes for a clean, professional election might already be out the window. In the flurry over Clinton’s announcement, a number of commentators have worried that her gender will open the door to a heightened degree of personal attacks and slights. While it seems like her competitors would do themselves more harm than good by appearing blatantly misogynistic, that doesn’t protect Clinton or her family members from malicious words and deeds that stem from the greater public. The Twitter trolls will continue to troll, and the backlash from Gamergate demonstrates how much harsher the Internet can be for women than their male counterparts.
Fortunately, in this instance, Twitter seems to be on Clinton’s side. Tweets decrying the grave defilement and calling for limits on the political contest circulated throughout the morning.
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