Australia’s leading conspiracy theorist and celebrity chef Pete Evans has been dumped by his publisher, retailers and even from a reality TV show after he posted a cartoon on social media with a Neo-Nazi symbol worn by the Christchurch terrorist.
On Sunday evening, Pete Evans posted a cartoon to his millions of followers on Facebook and Instagram. The cartoon features a caterpillar wearing a Make America Great Again hat speaking to a butterfly featuring the Black Sun symbol — also known as the sonnenrad or sunwheel.
It’s an ancient symbol appropriated by the Nazis, and now associated with Neo-Nazis according to the Anti-Defamation League, a anti-hate organisation. In recent times, it featured on the Christchurch terrorist’s rucksack and manifesto.
When a commenter on Evans’ Facebook page asked about it, he confirmed he knew the symbol.
“The symbol on the butterfly is a representation of the black sun lol,” one person wrote.
“I was waiting for someone to see that,” Evans’ account replied.
Later, Evans responded to another user on Instagram saying that he sees the “the caterpillar as colourful and at peace whereas the butterfly embodies darkness and perhaps shadow […] Or you can look at it as something completely different.”
And after that, Evan claimed he didn’t know what the symbol meant and apologised to “anyone who misinterpreted a previous post”.
A reverse Google image search reveals that the meme was also published this week on a Nordic Neo-Nazi website. It’s not clear whether it was posted before or after Evans shared the cartoon.
The post has also been shared in far-right online groups and on white supremacist social media accounts.
Gizmodo has chosen not to name these websites, groups and accounts due to their hateful nature.
While Evans has long been promoting anti-vaccine beliefs and other health misinformation, he’s come under fire this year for posting increasingly fringe and extreme conspiracy theories including COVID-19 denialist and QAnon content.
His publisher Pan Macmillan defended its decision to publish his work earlier this year despite his promotion of conspiracy theories and anti-public health views.
But his publisher announced they are finalising their current contractual relationship with him and won’t enter into a new one after this post.
Soon after that, retailers, brands and even a reality TV show slated to have him on distanced themselves from the celebrity chef.
Updated on 17 November with comment from Pan Macmillan, Evans and news of his commercial separations.