McCain vs. the space monkeys

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) got in a bit of hot water with the following Twitter message:


The story he linked to discusses Iran’s claim to have put a monkey in orbit, in a proud display of the intercontinental ballistic missile technology that it promises will never, ever carry any nuclear warheads that might accidentally tumble out of its entirely peaceful atomic-energy research program.  Iran says it wants peaceful nuclear power so it can make more money exporting oil to countries run by radical environmentalists who break out in hives at the thought of building their own nuclear reactors.

Iran claims the monkey survived its trip into space, so now President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says he is keen to become the first Iranian in space.  McCain humorously observed that this would actually make him the second Iranian space monkey.  “Lighten up folks, can’t everyone take a joke?” the Senator asked, after some criticism that his jest was racist or insensitive to Muslims.  (Muslims are very big on mutual respect for the humanity of all people, which is why you don’t see them running around and calling other people “apes and pigs” or anything like that.)  Naturally, some online wiseguys also chided McCain for insulting monkeys.

I don’t understand either the controversy or McCain’s sense of humor, because I don’t think Mahmoud Ahmadinejad looks like a monkey at all.