In a case of old bull/young bull rivalry, 22-year-old Jesse Stewart has stepped out of the long shadow cast by his illustrious dad, Tim Stewart — better known by the twitter handle “Burn Notice”.
The Burn Notice persona drove Stewart Senior to the giddy heights of being perhaps Australia’s leading QAnon figure, accumulating more than 40,000 followers in short order.
Burn, as we know him at Crikey, was an early adopter of the US-based QAnon conspiracy which posits that the world is run by a cabal of Satan-worshipping paedophiles who will soon be purged by US President Donald Trump. An alleged official known only as “Q” is seen to have been leaving clues online about the coming “storm”.
Around this time last year, Burn Notice shot to prominence when it was revealed that his wife was best friends with Jenny Morrison, the prime minister’s wife. She had reportedly landed a taxpayer-funded gig working with the Morrisons.
Crikey also demonstrated that Scott Morrison had deployed particular phrasing during his national apology to survivors of institutional child sex abuse — condemning “ritual sex abuse” — seemingly at the behest of Burn Notice and against expert advice.
Burn Notice had speculated that Morrison would make this addition before Morrison’s speech began, which enhanced his credentials to no end among supporters of the conspiracy.
Back then, Jesse Stewart was a bit player. Using the Twitter handle @jesse_onya_m8, the apprentice tradie and chip-off-the-old-block snappily reinforced Dad’s tweets with tweets of his own, hailing Morrison’s mention of “ritual” as a “great moment” for Australia.
Using the word made Morrison “a patriot” — the highest form of flattery in the nationalistic and militaristic world of QAnon.
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Like his father, Jesse was blocked from Twitter after the platform said it would crack down on QAnon conspiracy spreaders in July. Facebook followed suit this week, banning any accounts linked to QAnon.
But you can’t keep a good man down. Burn Notice promptly set up shop again on Twitter using the new handle @burned_spy34, though with only a fraction of the followers he had before.
Jesse was reborn as @Negan_HQ, adopting the façade of tough-as-teak, no-BS Walking Dead character Negan. (Burn Notice himself uses a TV character to front his online persona — Burn Notice protagonist Michael Westen, played by Jeffrey Donovan.)
Negan’s Twitter bio describes him thus: “I Wear A Leather Jacket, I Have Lucille And My NutSack Is Made Of Steel. I Hope You Got Your Shittin’ Pants On. /Kekistani Intel/ /Aussie/ /R i Q _ G R I M E S/”.
The “kek” in “Kekistani” has become a tribal marker of the alt-right, according to the US Southern Poverty Law Centre.
Negan has gone deep down the QAnon rabbit hole, constructing memes that proclaim “we are the news now”, a reflection of a movement given growing impetus by the president of the United States.
Jesse/Negan sees the international QAnon community as “the framework for the future direction of mankind” opposing the “evil elites” and making a future where “justice will be served and the people will never lose grip of power again”.
“I love you, Anons,” Negan says sweetly in another tweet from his suburban Sydney home. “The best digital army/family anyone could ever ask for! We will win this together.”
Two fervent QAnoners in the same small circle of family friends — a circle linked to the prime minister?
Morrison must wonder where it comes from, this talk of doomsday and the coming of an omniscient yet mysterious character to save us from the evil that lives amongst us.
If only they knew about Pentecostal Christianity…