Bigots are acting as though their lottery numbers finally came in, and they are walking away with a bigger jackpot than they could have imagined.

They have been trying unsuccessfully to silence anyone who steps up and calls out racism and bigotry for the evils they are. Now, they are hoping the Smollett incident will force these so-called race-baiters to retreat to a corner, afraid to utter another word.

It would be in the bigots’ best interest if no one pointed out that the number of hate groups operating in America reached a record high last year — more than 1,020, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. It would suit them just fine if everyone ignored the fact there had been three years of decline in the groups under President Barack Obama, but since Trump launched his presidential bid in 2015, the numbers have grown for four years straight.