The significance of Columbus, to Zinn, would be the stand point of how his story of discovery has been told.
The story of Columbus has been told and taught from the stance of Columbus and Spain.It has been used to describe how the America's were discovered and what a great accomplishment that was.Zinn, however, does not see the story of Columbus' discovery in that fashion.In fact, he does not see it that way at all.
He signifies the story, as a majority of people know it, as just one of the many in our history that have been embellished and or told from the point of view of leaders, and all others who may get something more out of revealing information a certain way. The traditional story of Columbus demonstrates what is wrong with the way history is usually written.It does this by using only certain facts and possibly naming only few of many people involved.
Traditionally we learn history by reading what has been written and then passed down through many resources, which can be very one sided. Zinn would most likely write these teachings differently by divulging more facts.This includes treacheries that were occurring at the same time that discoveries were being made.From reading what Zinn wrote about Columbus, I understand that he would tell the story of Columbus from the point of view of the Arawaks (the Indians).
He would do this not only because it has not been the traditional way to tell this story, but to give a different outlook to what had actually happened.This would be a way of teaching people about how all involved have been effected by decisions and conquers that were made, specifically Columbus' discovery.Zinn prefers to tell of the cruelties of victims because he wants to reach out to people and let them make their own decisions about history and who was "right" or "wrong".He seems to want people to realize the whole picture of this story, all people involv.