An overflow crowd watched the first spectacle of the new Republican House on Friday: hearings on homegrown Muslim extremism led by Rep. Peter King (R-NY). King has insisted his probe is necessary to expose the threat of “radical Islam,” and Democrats and religious groups responded that the witch-hunting air of the proceedings would fuel anti-American sentiment and energize al Qaeda. The Thursday hearing was heated and theatrical, with representatives shouting each other down at several tense moments. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), the first Muslim elected to the House, wept as he told the story of a Pakistani paramedic who died responding to the World Trade Center attack on September 11. "This committee's approach to this particular subject, I believe, is contrary to the best of American values and threatens our security,” Ellison said.