This is true :-D. I have spent most of my adult life working as a technical translator (French to English) - in fact, it's what I should be doing instead of writing to you ;-). I am very well placed to know the full truth of the difficulties of understanding texts in other languages. Have a nice afternoon :-)
"Rubbers" were also rubber overshoes, put over regular street shoes, to protect from rain. A lame joke from the period was to remind a guy when going out on a date to "remember to take your rubbers--just in case!" Meaning: It might rain (footwear rubbers) or you might get lucky and have sex (condoms).
I found it in a text about thought reform. People were forced to confess things they had not done. So when they confessed the interrogater just took it like rubber to keep the reform process going. It seemed to me that it had some cultural meaning or I was overthinking it. I have a bad habit - taking things literally in general - I have learned to not feel satisfied with my own intepretation so I always turn to others or try to learn more. I can be a bit tedious and ignorant by my own will. Do not know if it is a question about low self-esteem it is just what I do. I irritate people and can not always help it. But it is workable.
'The same action was seen by me and them from a completely different morality—seen through a different window. They are looking through from the outside in, me from the inside out. . . . They said the government is infallible, so what it discovered cannot be untrue. That puts me in a bad position. I said, "I admit the government is infallible." They took my words like rubber. . . . Later I asked the government for a lenient sentence, I could not say that they were unjust, as I was standing on their point of view.'
The book, Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism, is written in English; however, that's a quote from one of the Western missionaries (13 total: 12 Catholic, 1 Protestant) who were interviewed for the book. The Westerners interviewed for the book (25 in all) consisted of "seven Germans, seven Frenchmen, five Americans, one Dutchman, one Belgian, one Canadian, one Italian, one Irishman and one (White) Russian;".
The author doesn't identify the nationality of the speaker, but the majority of the Westerners do not appear to have been native English speakers, so really this is a question of whether "They took my words like rubber" is idiomatic in any of the other languages. In the languages I'm familiar with, none of these possible calques is an expression I recognize:
- prendre les paroles comme du caoutchouc - die Worte wie Gummi nehmen - de woorden als Rubber nemen - prendere le parole come goma
As for "glac focail cosúil le rubar" (Irish) and "узяць словы як гума" (Belarusian), I have no idea.
Judging from the context, you're probably dealing with an expression that means "They stuck to my words like glue."
But without knowing the actual language of the missionary in question, it's impossible to know for sure what they meant.