Juan Williams told Bill O’Reilly that he gets nervous at airports when he sees Muslims. For this, Williams has been roundly denounced as a bigot. But Williams’ association between innocent Muslims and the perpetrators of the 9-11 attacks was less about bigotry—at least, bigotry conventionally defined—than about his mind working normally. To live in America in the post-9/11 age and not have at least some associations between Muslims and terrorism means something is wrong with you.
I am not suggesting that associating ordinary Muslims with terrorists is either rational or right. It’s neither. But the association arises via a normal aspect of brain functioning, which is precisely why so many people entertain such beliefs—and why those beliefs have proved so resistant to challenge.