Monsanto has placed me on their blacklist, I've just discovered. Though I've personally served Clinton, G.W. Bush, Gore, Cheney, and thousands of other influential individuals in my 24 years as a language interpreter, this is the first time I've ever found myself blacklisted.
It all began back in 1986, when I started work as a low-level contract language interpreter with the U.S. Department of State in the Indonesian language. I gradually moved up the ranks and was very excited to find myself in the White House for the first time in 1995, interpreting for President Clinton in an important meeting with President Suharto of Indonesia. In years following, it was an honor and a pleasure to serve presidents and top officials from numerous countries, as I eventually became the State Department's top Indonesian interpreter.
Yet in 2004, the State Department for the first time required us to sign a new contract swearing all interpreters to secrecy about "any information known to them by reason of their performance of services." The only exception was if we obtained written permission of our superiors. After hearing from my supervisors that there was no way around this, I sadly resigned. If they had simply added "any information which could conceivably threaten national security," I would have been happy to sign. As this new requirement reflected the excessive secrecy being promoted by the Bush administration at the time, my resignation was even reported in an article in the Washington Post.
Though I resigned from my work with the government, I have continued to do occasional interpreting work in the private sector. My discovery of being blacklisted by Monsanto occurred just this week, as I was negotiating a private gig. When I learned that the client was Monsanto, I took a deep breath. In my extensive research into deep politics, I had discovered that Monsanto has done more damage to public health than just about any other corporation. I wasn't sure I wanted to interpret for them.
Yet I never had to make that decision, because word came back from the person arranging the contract that my name was on Monsanto's blacklist! Wow!!! The fact that Monsanto even has a blacklist is interesting in itself. The fact that I was on their blacklist was even more astounding.
I had to wonder what I had done that might have earned me this "honor" with Monsanto
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