Books by an Australian celebrity chef have been pulled by major retailers after he posted a cartoon featuring a neo-Nazi symbol on social media, Pete Evans’ Instagram post showed a “black sun” – a symbol associated with Nazi Germany and used by the far-right including the Christchurch gunman.
The chef has previously stoked controversy for posting debunked conspiracy theories about Covid-19, after a public outcry Woolworths, Kmart and Target have removed his books. Mr Evans posted on Sunday a now-deleted cartoon of a caterpillar wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat speaking to a black butterfly with the black sun symbol on it’s wing, the black sun, or sonnenrad, is a symbol associated with the SS paramilitary wing in Nazi Germany as well as with the occult. It has been used by white supremacists in the US and paramilitary units in Ukraine.
It was also found on the rucksack and manifesto of the man who murdered 51 people in the 2019 Christchurch mosque attack in New Zealand, a number of businesses have distanced themselves from Mr Evans since his controversial post. In a statement on Tuesday the supermarket giant Woolworths Group said it “reviews it’s range of books regularly to ensure they’re aligned with it’s values” and had “decided to remove Pete Evans’ book titles” from 17 November. The move followed an announcement by publisher Pan Macmillan the previous day that it would not be entering into any further publishing agreements with the chef and that retailers could return his books. The kitchenware brand Baccarat also said on Tuesday that it would stop making and selling a range of products carrying the chef’s name.
“In our view, the images and views expressed by Mr Evans are abhorrent, unacceptable and deeply offensive,” it said in a Facebook post, Mr Evans is known in Australia for promoting conspiracy theories about the coronavirus, previously calling the pandemic a “hoax”. In April he was fined A$25,000 ($18,000; £14,000) for promoting a “light machine” that he claimed could help treat what he called the “Wuhan coronavirus”. The WHO warns against referring to the virus by a specific geographical location over concerns such terms could trigger a rise in discrimination, in a Facebook post on Monday Mr Evans wrote: “Sincere apologies to anyone who misinterpreted a previous post of a caterpillar and a butterfly having a chat over a drink and perceived that I was promoting hatred.
“I look forward to studying all of the symbols that have ever existed and research them thoroughly before posting, hopefully this symbol (heart emoji) resonates deeply into the hearts of ALL! (heart emoji),” he said, with a picture of a rainbow coloured heart.