Anyone who suggests that those who did not take a code test are not real hams takes themselves way too seriously and ....
I fully agree. I obtained my Novice license when I was in High School (1965) and later on upgraded to Technician. At the time, Novice licenses were only good for one year, non renewable. So it was either upgrade or you were out. But it was tough finding the time to work my way up to the 13 WPM rate to get my General. What with school, work, "girls", cars, etc. Not necessarily in that order. So for a very long time, I didn't bother with trying to upgrade.
I never had any issue with the written tests. I don't find them any harder/easier now than they were then. However, I have a background in Engineering. Then, in 1998/1999, I started hearing all the noise about lowering or dropping the Morse tests. I knew that all I had to do was wait a few more years and I could upgrade easily. But it was always my personal goal to make it to Extra with the code tests. It took a little while to find the method that worked for me, but by July 1999, I was ready and passed the necessary tests.
But all of that was due to a personal goal. While Morse Code was a requirement, that really had nothing to do with it. It was something I wanted for a very long time and I finally found a way to achieve it.
As a side issue, it also gave me a leg up on all of the vanity call signs. While everyone was waiting for the Morse requirement to go away, I had lots of good vanity call signs available to me. But in the end, I chose a 1x3 call with my initials. However it turns out to be an excellent CW call. I can't remember anyone ever getting my call wrong.
... I am taking my general this coming Saturday, with my extra coming later this year. Do I want to learn CW, yes and I probably will because I have found a new interest in it. Do I feel CW is needed, absolutely not.
Good luck on your tests. I will look for you on CW.