Talk about creating a straw man! You assert that I cited Leonard Cohen as 'an authority on American folk music'. What a load of bullshit! I did no such thing. I quoted a remark from Cohen, made in a totally different context (as an introduction to song), simply because it seemed pertinent to my feelings about this kind of debate. If I wished to cite authorities on American folk music, I would refer to people like Tony Russell, Archie Green, D.K. Wilgus, Charles Wolfe, Bill Malone, Karen Linn, Ivan Tribe, Kip Cornell, Neil Rosenburg, Paul Oliver etc. As you say, Cohen is a poet and popular singer who has little, if any, connection with 'American folk music'. If you believe my thinking is tired because I see little point in pursuing a debate that has gone around in circles for decades, so be it.
I have been collecting, listening to and reading about folk music (mostly American) for almost 40 years. I have had more than my fair share of 'fun' over the years, debating these issues ad nauseam. I believe there is simply too much great music to be explored to waste time on this. Have you read 'Transforming Tradition: Folk Music Revivals Examined' ed by Neil Rosenburg? Some of the papers therein reduce the subject to meaningless gobbledegook. Despite its excellent information and insights, I defy anyone to deny seriously that a good deal of Robert Cantwell's 'When We Were Good: The Folk Revival' is anything but meaningless, pretentious drivel. If that's where it all leads, you can have it! You talk about people's 'heroes'. Well my heroes are people like Uncle Dave, Charlie Poole, Buell Kazee, Virgil Anderson, Kelly Harrell, Fiddlin' Doc Roberts, the Mississippi Sheiks and others - and for them, a good song was a good song whatever its origins. I am a devotee of traditional music, but I also love the music Steve Young, John Prine, Richard Shindell, Kevin Welch, James Talley, Dick Feller, Townes Van Zandt, Kimmie Rhodes, Claire Lynch, Chris Smither, Jackson C. Frank, Bob Neuwirth, Tom Russell etc etc - but, Frank, I am under no delusion that they are 'folk' artists.