A former White House ASL interpreter says she was ‘canceled’ after being outed as a Trump supporter and subsequently let go by the Biden Administration.
Heather Meshaw, a former White House interpreter, was released from the Biden Administration after an article published on January 27th outed her as a Trump supporter. “I was canceled and humiliated publicly and it was unjust and unfair,’” says Mewshaw. This came shortly after the Biden Administration announced that they would include ASL interpreters at every press briefing. Mewshaw interpreted for Jen Psaki, the White House Press Secretary, on January 25th, just days before being released.
Mewshaw, a 41-year-old married mother of four from Glen Burnie, Md., also said she’s been “harassed” and “intimidated” online for providing American Sign Language translation for the Hands of Liberty Facebook group and its defunct predecessor, Right Side ASL. Those videos include one featuring former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani that’s titled “What Really Happened On January 6th?” — the day of the deadly storming of the US Capitol by Trump supporters — and another, since removed, that featured controversial Dr. Stella Immanuel, who has promoted treating COVID-19 with hydroxychloroquine, which the FDA has banned for that purpose [NY Post].
Mewshaw said she doesn’t necessarily agree with everything she translates, but does the volunteer work in response to requests from people who want to see speeches by Republican politicians and other conservative figures translated into ASL. Her critics “don’t want this content to be interpreted because they don’t believe in it,” Mewshaw said. “Deaf people just want a chance to decide for themself what information is out there,” she said. Mewshaw also claimed there’s a “double standard” for conservative ASL interpreters and pointed to remarks last year by David Cowan, who translated speeches by Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and other GOP state officials after attracting attention for signing a Beyoncé song at the 2019 Atlanta Pride festival.
“To me, it doesn’t matter — Democrat or Republican, gay or straight. I’m there to provide a service and deliver a message to deaf people,” Cowan told Atlanta magazine. Although she acknowledged being a Trump supporter, Mewshaw said she paid “about $20” to buy a red “Keep America Great” hat for a video titled “Thank You President Trump from the Right Side ASL Team!” that was posted the same day President Biden was inaugurated last month. Mewshaw said she was upset by images posted online that falsely show her wearing the hat during White House press secretary Jen Psaki’s Jan. 25 briefing. That marked the first and only time she was hired by the Biden administration after interpreting five briefings for the Trump administration between Nov. 19 and Dec. 15. Other attacks on Mewshaw included a Change.org petition that garnered nearly 9,000 signatures and a since-deleted tweet by deaf model and actor Nyle DiMarco, who wrote, “Imagine what harm she could cause, literally holding the message in her hands” [Daily Mail].
ARTICLE: ETHAN FINN
POLITICS EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: PEOPLE.COM