Obama Film Director Quotes Communist Manifesto at the Oscars

When American Factory, the first Netflix movie produced by former President Barack Obama's production company, won the Oscar for "Best Documentary Feature," one of its directors gave a shout-out to Karl Marx. Julia Reichert quoted one of the most infamous slogans from The Communist Manifesto.

"Working people have it harder and harder these days—and we believe that things will get better when workers of the world unite," Richert said. "Workers of the world, unite!" is one of the most notorious communist slogans, tracing back to Marx himself.

Sen. Joe McCarthy (R-Wisc.) had warned about the communist infiltration of various American institutions, including Hollywood, in the 1940s and 1950s. He went too far in his campaign of character assassination, ironically mimicking some of the authoritarian tactics of the Soviets. However, the Soviets did try to plant communists in many U.S. institutions, and the far-left drift of Hollywood and academia may trace back to Soviet efforts.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), as of Monday the second-place finisher in the Iowa caucuses, once said he didn't mind being called a communist. He infamously honeymooned in the Soviet Union in the 1980s and worked with various Marxist political parties during his time as mayor of Burlington, Vermont. He endorsed Socialist Workers Party candidates for president in the 1980s when that party was pointing to Soviet-aligned countries like Nicaragua and Cuba as inspirations for U.S. policy. His support for this party prompted an FBI investigation.

An American director quoting The Communist Manifesto at the Oscars would have been unthinkable to patriots during the Cold War. But in the age of Bernie Sanders, the director of a film produced by a former president feels quite at home saying, "Workers of the world, unite!"

Tyler O'Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.