Two former Iowans with a unique view of the situation in the Middle East are back visiting Iowa. Tom Sutherland, an Iowa State University graduate, was held hostage in the Middle East for six years before his release in 1992.
Sutherland says things there haven’t changed much at all since the time he was held hostage. He says the young men of the Middle East are being brainwashed by religious into believing the reason they have no job, no money and no future is the fault of America. He says that’s “ridiculous” Sutherland says the children of the Middle East need more education to learn how to build and make things, instead of blowing them up.
And, he says the United States needs to do a better job of showing its good side. He says we need to be more active in doing away with the image of America as Satan, as he says its not true, and America has done more good than any other country in civilization. Sutherland’s wife Jean is an Ames native.
Jean Sutherland says the unremitting support of Israel by the US. is part of the problem, as she says the U.S. has taken no real action to help solve the problem. Sutherland says Americans need to be more educated about all sides in the Mid-East turmoil. She says it’s incumbent on Americans to learn the history and be objective about the issue and not take sides.
The Sutherlands speak publicly about the issue, but say recent administrations haven’t asked for their opinions at the White House. Tom Sutherland says they had a good relationship with George Herbert Walker Bush and Barbara. Sutherland campaigned for the elder Bushes and says that likely made the Clinton administration sour on them. He says George W. Bush has not contacted him either.
Sutherland says President Bush has a tough job in trying to wipe out the terrorists. He says it’s better to put money into U.S. and foreign intelligence than it is to fight a military war. He says it’s better to undercut them with intelligence. He says every bomb we drop creates more young men who’re angry at America and want to get back at America. So, he’s not in favor of going to war again with Iraq.
The Sutherlands are back in Iowa to promote Living History Farms in Urbandale. The museum shows what it was like living on a farm in Iowa in the 17, 18 and 19-hundreds. Tom Sutherland remembers when his father-in-law Bill Murray, an Iowa State University professor, proposed the idea of a living farm museum.
Sutherland says he thought Murray had bitten off more than he could chew. The farms opened for visitors in 1970. Sutherland says they’re doing what Murray intended. He says the farms have introduced agriculture to thousands of kids. Tom Sutherland met his wife Jean while studying agriculture at Iowa State University. He was later taken hostage in Beirut while teaching agriculture at American University, and was held six years before being released.
Jean Sutherland says the new program at the farms, “Get your grip on history,” allows kids to do the actual farm work. Sutherland says Living History Farms is an example too of what’s happening in agriculture today. When the farms were first developed, they were out in the country, but the Des Moines suburbs have now closed in around them. He says that shows exactly what’s happening today in agriculture.
The Sutherlands hope their notoriety will bring attention to the non-profit farms and help raise money to secure their future. The inventor of the farms, Bill Murray, ironically died ten years ago on the day that Tom Sutherland was freed from captivity.