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Fleet's in, but students think it should be out

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AS anyone over 30 knows, anyone under 30 is not to be fully trusted. It's a fact: The younger generation just can't match us. The kids aren't as smart as we were when we were their age, and certainly not nearly as smart as we are now. Their taste in music is terrible. Their clothes are worse. They are much too easily impressed by the wrong things and the wrong people. We'd be in big trouble if they were running the world.

Ah, but would we, really? Consider a scene that was played out recently in San Francisco's City Hall, in the office of Mayor Dianne Feinstein, one of the nation's most prominent municipal officials.

It was a confrontation. On one side was the 53-year-old mayor, a middle-of-the-road Democrat who is as representative of the older, supposedly wiser, generation as anyone you could possibly find. On the other side were eight local high school students, none older than 17.

Mayor Feinstein had invited the students into her office to speak for 100 others who had marched with them into the marble halls outside. They carried petitions more than 700 students had signed to protest the mayor's officially proclaimed support for this year's ``Fleet Week.''

The Navy celebrated the week, which marked the Navy's 211th birthday, by sending into San Francisco Bay a flotilla of 14 ships led by the huge aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk. Screeching overhead were the Blue Angels, the Navy's ``spectacular sextet of precision-flying jets,'' as one of the city's newspapers admiringly described the noisy fighter planes.

A ``Peace Navy'' of some two dozen small boats did take to the water to protest ``the growing militarization of the bay.'' But the boats were kept under close surveillance by the Coast Guard and their protests were scarcely noted, if they were noted at all, amid the welcoming cheers of thousands of Bay Area residents who lined the shores. It was precisely what the Navy wanted it to be, a ceremonial effort that was hailed by Adm. James Lyons Jr., commander in chief of the Pacific Fleet, as ``symbolic of the renaissance of the marriage between the Navy and the city.''

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