Celebrity

How Pete Evans Went From Sharing Wellness Conspiracies To Sharing A Neo-Nazi Symbol

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Pete Evans has been slammed on social media after he posted a neo-Nazi symbol.  

The post seemed to endorse white supremacy and it felt like a really dark tipping point for Evans, even though he’s already well known for dabbling in some wild conspiracy theories.  

How does somebody who stars out believing in some seemingly harmless wellness conspiracies end up posting a neo-Nazi symbol?

I want to figure out what that jump is and if other people online are taking the same path that Evans has, and just a heads up, this episode will contain images of the symbol that Evans posted.  

What Did Pete Evans Do?

The symbol was posted in a cartoon to Evans’ Facebook page, where he has 1 and a half million followers.  

This is what it looked like.  

The caterpillar on the left is wearing a ‘Make America Great Again’ cap and the butterfly on the right has the sonnenrad or ‘black sun’ symbol on its wing.  

The Black Sun is a well-recognised white supremacist symbol that’s been adopted by neo-Nazi communities and it was used by the Christchurch shooter who murdered 51 people in 2019.  

Dr Kaz Ross: It’s saying that those Trump-level patriots and MAGA nationalists, their true nature is to evolve into neo-Nazis and this should be celebrated. So it was actually a political statement.” 

Dr Kaz Ross is an expert in online conspiracies and extremism who’s followed Pete Evans for a long time.

The backlash to this has been huge.

Pan Macmillan who publish Evans’ cookbooks, have said that they’re ending their relationship with him and he’s been kicked out of the next series of I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here 

After a bit of back and forth on the page about what it meant, Evans posted a pretty cynical apology about the black sun being open to interpretation, and he did remove the post.

But what led him to a point where he’s posting neo-Nazi symbols?

Pete Evans And His Content

Pete Evans is really well known for his alternative healing and conspiracy theory beliefs, which have drawn a bunch of attention this year in particular.  

Back in April he was fined for selling a $15,000 light that claimed to protect people against COVID-19.  

And then in May he began posting content to his Instagram that implied he was starting to get on board with QAnon, a conspiracy theory group with a strong anti-Semitic belief system at its core.  

Dr Ross told me that people who buy into things like 5G conspiracies and anti-vaccination can easily make their way into the alt-right and neo-Nazi belief systems because they actually have a lot in common.  

KR: All of them believe that there are big powerful forces out there manipulating us and lying to us, and they use the mainstream media … and social media censoring to do that … they share a suspicion of government, of big business, of globalisation, of corporations, of mainstream media.” 

Dr Ross said that she sees people making this jump to extremist alt-right beliefs pretty frequently and it’s become a lot more common in the pandemic because people are questioning lockdown and the government’s choices so much.  

Alt-right groups know this as well and they purposefully infiltrate vulnerable online communities.  

A bunch of Australia’s anti-lockdown groups have taken a rapid turn from some pretty basic questioning to blatantly believing in conspiracies about a global Jewish elite that’s pulling the strings.  

KR: I think people are very confused about what’s going on in our world. There’s a huge shaking up in terms of economic power, political power and influence on global scene and people are trying to make sense of that, and they may not have the sophistication or the political tools to do so.” 

Dr Ross also said she’s worried that this pathway of conspiracy belief could become much more common when COVID-19 vaccines start to roll out because massive anti-vaxx communities online could start to take on these beliefs.  

The Takeaway 

Pete Evans posting a neo-Nazi symbol to his Facebook was an incredibly disturbing move for somebody who wields so much online influence.  

But this story is bigger than Evans because it shows how believing in pretty inoffensive conspiracies can lead down a really dark path online and drag people into the alt-right and deeply racist belief systems.