Melissa Harris-Perry of MSNBC presided over an appalling segment in which panelists mocked Mitt Romney’s family because of his adopted black grandchild.  She later apologized profusely.

Yet for unknown reasons, Ta-Nehisi Coates in The Atlantic rushed to Perry’s defense not by defending her conduct, but by attacking her critics as racist.

The Smartest Nerd in the Room: Why Melissa Harris-Perry is America’s foremost public intellectual, and what she means

On Saturday, Melissa Harris-Perry apologized on air for segment that made light of the Romney clan’s adoption of a young black boy. On Sunday, Mitt Romney accepted Harris-Perry’s “heartfelt” apology, noting, “I’ve made plenty of mistakes myself.” I’ve watched the offending segment several times now. I can see how a white parent who’d adopted a black child (or vice versa) would find the segment flip and offensive. It would not have surprised me if those concerned about adoption, equality, and racism voiced some protest about the segment. Instead what we got was week of invective driven mostly by a conservative movement with less lofty concerns.

“Harris-Perry has been a public laughingstock for some time now,” wrote John Nolte. “P.S. The Duck Dynasty family has an adopted black child. Maybe this is why the media hate them so much.” Nolte was writing for the site named for the man who engineered the “Shirley Sherrod is a racist” hoax. There has never been an apology for that and there won’t be one.

Stop. Right. There.  And repeat after me, “The Shirley Sherrod tape was not misleading.”  Ya see, I’ve analyzed that Breitbart tape frame by framed anyone who says the tape was misleading or racist doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

More Coates:

That is because the conservative movement does not believe that racism is an actual issue to be grappled with, but sees it instead as a hand grenade to be lobbed into an enemy camp. One week we find Sarah Palin defending a man who thought my father was better off living under state-sponsored terrorism. The next we find her arguing that history’s greatest monster is one Melissa Harris-Perry.

What does any of that have to do with Harris-Perry’s conduct as to Romney’s family, or justify anointing her “America’s foremost public intellectual”?

Nothing.

In fact, whatever her private intellectual life is, her public performances on MSNBC have been a total embarrassment — even to MSNBC.  No, Melissa Harris-Perry, “Obamacare” was not conceived by rich white men

Here’s a partial list from Fire Andrea Mitchell blog:

There are some fights not worth fighting. And defending Perry’s conduct with regard to the Romney family is not one of them. Certainly not by throwing around accusations that her critics are racist.